With MK Benny Gantz’s deadline to form a government looming, President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday called on the Blue and White and Likud parties to put their differences aside and form a government to avoid a third round of elections in less than a year.
“Enough! We do not need another round of elections,” Rivin said during a visit to the southern city of Netivot, which was targeted by recent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
“I call on both Likud and Blue and White to come to their senses and understand the nation doesn’t want further elections,” Rivlin said. “I call on both Likud and Blue and White to get a grip and understand that the people do not want more elections. They have had enough of elections. You are the representatives of the sovereign, but never forget – the people is the sovereign.”
“You have problems? There are personal problems? They are solvable,” Rivlin continued. The country’s leaders, he said, “need to understand that the country’s citizens come before everything.”
Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition in the aftermath of the inconclusive September elections, Blue and White party leader Gantz has until Wednesday to do so, after which Knesset members may choose a candidate to be given the mandate or decide to head back to elections, the third in less than a year.
Coalition negotiations between the two largest parties have stalled amid Netanyahu’s making his agreement to join a government conditional on the inclusion of a broad 55 MK-strong bloc of his religious and ultra-Orthodox right-wing political allies. Gantz has insisted the Netanyahu leave behind his allied parties and has also vowed to not serve under a prime minister who is under criminal indictment. Netanyahu is facing pending charges in a trio of corruption cases.
Rivlin has proposed a power-sharing rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz that would see Netanyahu serve as prime minister first, but take a leave of absence from the position if and when he is indicted.
According to a recent Channel 13 report, the proposal stalled over Netanyahu’s refusal to commit to not seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
The president said Sunday the two parties should first reach agreement on the principles of a coalition and then put together a government.
“I believe it is possible to form a government,” he said. “The gaps are more personal than they are ideological, conceptual, political or to do with the needs of the state. Israel’s leaders must understand that the people of Israel come first.”
The coming week will likely see Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announce his decision on whether to charge the premier in the three corruption cases, according to reports, further complicating the situation.
Blue and White could possibly decide to try and establish a minority government shored up by the outside support of the Joint List, a predominantly Arab alliance that on principle will not join any coalition. Netanyahu over the weekend stepped up his claim that Gantz is heading in that direction, though Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi told Kan public radio in an interview Sunday morning that while there have been talks with Blue and White on a potential minority government, there has not been an official proposal yet.