Gantz Agrees to Lieberman's Terms for Entering Government

Kahol Lavan leader was responds to list of demands by Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, who holds the balance of power between the right and center-left in the incoming Knesset

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Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Kahol Lavan Benny Gantz.
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, left, and Kahol Lavan Benny Gantz.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz said he would agree to the minimum terms that Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman has set for joining a Gantz-led coalition government.

The demands include benefits of 70 percent of the minimum wage for all elderly living on guaranteed income allowance and old age pension; transferring the decision-making over whether public transportation and businesses can operate on Shabbat to individual local governments; passage of a law introduced previously regarding the drafting of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students; enacting a law providing for civil marriage; and allowing municipal rabbis to perform conversions.

"Agreed. We need to move forward," Gantz tweeted in response a list of demands that the Yisrael Beiteinu leader listed earlier Sunday in a Facebook post.

Moshe Gafni, the leader of Degel Hatorah, which makes up half of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism slate, responded to Gantz by saying that he lacks political and public experience. "He takes pride in striving for unity while announcing that he accepts the harshest divisions in Israeli society and Lieberman's delusional terms."

In another development, the Knesset members from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, signed a statement on Sunday committing not to join a minority government led by Gantz and promising to use their best efforts to bring down such a government and to support a government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shas party chairman said all of the other members of the other parties in the right-wing bloc would also sign onto the statement.

Gafni stressed that United Torah Judaism is adamant about not joining a coalition with Gantz, and that it is remaining within the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu. 

Yisrael Beiteinu won seven seats in the incoming Knesset in last week's election, making him the kingmaker in a Knesset in which the right wing bloc led by Netanyahu's Likud has 58 seats and the center-left led by Kahol Lavan has 55.

The center-left-bloc includes the 15 seats of the largely Arab Joint List, which are not guaranteed to support Gantz.

When it comes to a decision on whether his party would support the removal of Yuli Edelstein of Likud as Knesset speaker, Lieberman tweeted that it would have to wait until after President Reuven Rivlin entrusts the task of forming a government to a party leader.

On Saturday, Gantz said that the "majority wants an end to Netanyahu’s rule," citing the results of Israel's Monday election, which gave parties opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 62 out of 120 Knesset seats.

Gantz vowed to form a government, despite disagreements between potential coalition partners. "I will do anything in my power to prevent a fourth election," he said. The latest election campaign "crushed all the norms that are common between a man and his friend and between a citizen and his leaders," added Gantz.

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