Union boss urges Labor-Gesher to hold coalition talks with Likud

Arnon Bar-David says if Blue and White can consider entering government with Netanyahu, then MK Amir Peretz should also hear what is on offer

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Labor-Gesher party leader MK Amir Peretz speaks with the media after casting his ballot at a voting station in Sderot, during the Knesset elections, on September 17, 2019. (Flash90)
Labor-Gesher party leader MK Amir Peretz speaks with the media after casting his ballot at a voting station in Sderot, during the Knesset elections, on September 17, 2019. (Flash90)

Histadrut labor federation chairman Arnon Bar-David on Thursday called on MK Amir Peretz, who leads the center-left Labor-Gesher alliance, to open coalition negotiations with the ruling Likud party.

Earlier Peretz declared that he will not consider sitting in a government with Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who the president tasked the day before with forming a majority coalition following last week’s vote.

The election last Tuesday was the second one within five months, which again did not result in a clear path for any party to form a government.

Bar-David told Army Radio that, “If Blue and White can sit down with Likud then Amir Peretz can also hear what they have to offer.”

Talks between Likud negotiators and Blue and White representatives aimed at cobbling together a unity government failed, after which President Reuven Rivlin gave first shot at forming a coalition to Netanyahu.

Arnon Bar-David speaks to members of the Histadrut labor organization, March 29, 2019 (Screen grab via Facebook)

Netanyahu, whose right-religious bloc is six seats shy of a governing coalition, reportedly reached out to Peretz after elections for coalition talks but was rejected.

“Netanyahu must internalize that the country’s citizens chose to replace him and want a new hope,” Peretz tweeted Thursday. “We made a commitment and we will keep it.”

Peretz recalled that even before the elections he stated that he would not join a Netanyahu-led government and would not negotiate to be part of its coalition.

“The mandate that we got from the people is to replace not just Netanyahu but also his policies,” wrote Peretz who was himself once the Histadrut chairman.

The Peretz-led alliance won six seats in the September 17 election. Netanyahu currently leads a bloc of right-wing and religious parties that hold 56 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, giving Labor-Gesher the power to put the prime minister back in office.

Although Blue and White won 33 sets in the election — one more than Likud — its leader Benny Gantz was only able to muster the recommendations of 54 MKs to try forming a coalition, while Netanyahu gained 55, prompting Rivlin to give the latter first attempt.

President Reuven Rivlin, right, tasks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government, during a press conference a the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on September 25, 2019. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP)

Gantz has vowed to not sit in a government led by Netanyahu, who is facing indictments, pending a hearing, in three graft cases, one of which includes a charge of bribery.

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