Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party, saying that he wants to rule with a right-wing government.
“I will not form a government with Benny Gantz,” the prime minister said at a meeting with a group of religious journalists. “I will be the one to build the coalition, and it will be a nationalistic Likud government, a right-wing government.”
Gantz’s party responded in a statement, saying: “We will establish a Zionist government of hope and unity that will replace Netanyahu.”
A poll published late Saturday showed Netanyahu remaining best placed to form a government even if his chief rivals join forces ahead of April’s elections.
The poll, published by Channel 12 news, is the latest to show the center and left failing to overtake a right-wing government even if they should overcome their differences and unite, with intensive talks taking place between various parties ahead of this month’s deadline to finalize party tickets.
A party led by former IDF chief Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi would lead the voting with 36 seats were elections held now, according to the survey.
While that number easily beats out the 32 seats snagged by Netanyahu’s Likud party in that scenario, it leaves the centrist alliance with few natural allies on the left with which to form a coalition.
Netanyahu also called on the right-wing parties Jewish Home, National Union, Otzma Yehudit and the Yachad party to unite.
“You must not lose these votes, because at the end of this there is either a left-wing wing government or a right-wing government. A split on the right will lead to a loss in the elections,” he told the reporters, according to Channel 13 news.
“I’m asking you for this as I make phone calls and hold meetings with the heads of all these parties in order to unite and connect. None of them passes the [electoral] threshold. One of them joining with Likud does not add seats, according to our polls, so it does not achieve the goal.”
Unity talks between the Jewish Home and the National Union hit a “dead-end” Saturday evening, according to officials from both of the national religious factions.
Recent polls have shown a joint Jewish Home-National Union ticket hovering just above the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent of the national vote. However, surveys show two independent runs would see both parties fail to garner enough support to enter the Knesset unless they find other factions to join up with.
While horse-race polls are an almost daily occurrence in Israel in the months leading up to elections and are not seen as overly reliable, taken together the surveys can often serve as a general gauge of the political climate and where the vote may be headed.