Likud MK David Bitan, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, predicted Tuesday that Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz would fail at forming a coalition but that parties would subsequently ease their demands in the final 21 days remaining for any lawmaker to garner the majority of support necessary to build a government.
“I think a government will be formed in the final 21 days,” Bitan said, referring to the three weeks when any lawmaker can jockey for the support of 61 MKs in order to be tasked with forming a coalition. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.
Bitan argued that a coalition would not be formed during the 28 days given to Benny Gantz, who will be handed the mandate to form a coalition on Wednesday after Netanyahu informed President Reuven Rivlin Monday that he had failed to cobble together a government. The Likud MK claimed that only after Gantz’s turn has passed and parties realize that they only have three weeks to prevent a new election will they “be under pressure” to compromise.
“All of the blocs — both on the left and on the right — will fall apart,” Bitan predicted. After the September election, Netanyahu formed a 55-member right-wing, religious bloc with Yamina along with the Shas and United Torah Judaism ultra-Orthodox parties. They all vowed to stick together throughout the negotiation process and only join a government led by Netanyahu.
While no similar agreement was inked between left-wing parties, Bitan insisted one existed “that no one is talking about,” claiming that Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman had been cooperating with Blue and White in order to prevent Netanyahu from forming a government
Regardless, the Likud MK assured that all factions “will be ready to do something so that there will be not be another election” during the final 21 days, though he refused to elaborate on how his party would be willing to compromise.
On Monday, the Blue and White party issued a statement saying that “the time for spin is over” and that the party was “determined to form the liberal unity government, headed by Gantz, that the nation elected a month ago.”
It was the second consecutive time Netanyahu has been unable to build a majority. Following elections in April, Netanyahu was one seat short of a majority and pushed through a vote to dissolve the Knesset and call a snap vote rather than let another lawmaker be tasked with forming a government.
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