Netanyahu: Forming Gov't With Arab Parties Is 'Slap in the Face of Israeli Soldiers'

Earlier, Gantz said he's open to compromise with Netanyahu ■ Kahol Lavan leader slated to meet with Lieberman on Tuesday

Benny Gantz follows Netanyahu to speak at a special event commemorating the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, Jerusalem, November 10, 2019
Ohad Zwigenberg

Netanyahu said Monday that forming a government with the members of the Joint List is a slap in the face of Israeli soldiers, in response to the possibility of a minority government led by Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz supported by the Joint List.

In his speech at the "Makor Rishon" conference, the prime minister said that "there is one government that should not be formed - and this is a minority government that supports and depends on the Arab parties."

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"A government that depends on the Arab parties is a danger to Israel's security," added Netanyahu. He then addressed Gantz saying "you were the Chief of Staff in Operation Protective Edge [2014 Gaza war], we ran the operation together - do you remember what Tibi did during the operation? He read from the Knesset podium the names of the terrorists who were killed, and said that the IDF is committing war crimes."

Netanyahu added, "I ask you Benny Gantz, do you want to form a government with these people? This is a direct slap in the face of IDF soldiers, the fighters you and I sent to battle."

"Get off this crazy idea of forming a left-wing minority government that depends on Tibi, Odeh, and members of the Joint List. This government should never exist, even for one day," continued Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, Gantz said on Monday that his party is willing to consider "certain compromises" as part of the ongoing attempt to break the political deadlock and form a government.

Gantz's comments come a day before he meets Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman – the current kingmaker of Israeli politics – who has called on both Gantz and Netanyahu to sit down and find a compromise that would prevent a third election.

"We want to work towards a wide government that will express the will of the people," Gantz said at a party meeting at the Knesset. "A government that will also respect and serve the minorities, all of them," he added.

Also on Monday, Lieberman reiterated his demand from both sides: Gantz, he said, must accept the "president's framework," which sets out how long Netanyahu can remain in office until he is indicted; Netanyahu, according to Lieberman, must break with his 55-member right-wing bloc.

"What are we going to tell the citizens of Israel? That instead of fixing our healthcare system we'll clash with each other, and instead of fighting Iran we'll fight one another on the radio and on television?" Lieberman said, speaking after his party meeting at the Knesset. "You have 65 mandates between you, you don't need anyone to establish a government. If you disagree on something, flip a coin if you must."

Referring to the prime minister, Lieberman said, “From Netanyahu I expect leadership, not evasion and curses.”

MK Nitzan Horowitz, chairman of the Democratic Union, said in response to Lieberman that he does not rule out a government led by Gantz in partnership with the ultra-Orthodox. However, "everyone who joins will have to make compromises," he added.  

Lieberman on Saturday said that should either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan refuse to accept his terms for a unity government, his party would back the other candidate in forming a government.

Speaking during an interview on Channel 12 News, Lieberman said he plans to ask both men to compromise in order to avoid a third election. He would request that Gantz accept the outline proposed by President Reuven Rivlin for a unity government, and that Netanyahu dismantle the 55-seat right-wing bloc supporting him.

Lieberman said he would support whoever capitulates to his demand. The former defense minister also eschewed from committing that he would not support Gantz in a minority government with the Arab-majority parties, nor a Netanyahu one with the ultra-Orthodox — a scenario which he was vehemently against during the recent election campaign.