Gantz and Netanyahu to Meet Sunday for Unity Government Negotiations

Likud and Kahol Lavan announced in a joint statement that the two leaders will meet at 5:30 P.M. in Tel Aviv

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz Sunday, as Gantz attempts to form a governing coalition after Netanyahu was unable to do so. 

The two party leaders will meet at the Tel Aviv Governmental Complex at 5:30 P.M., a joint statement by Likud and Kahol Lavan said.

Gantz is slated to meet with Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman at 1:30 P.M. on Monday at the Knesset in Jerusalem. He is also set to meet with leaders of Labor and the Democratic Union. The Arab-majority Joint List, however, declined to meet with Gantz, clarifying that it will only hold talks as a unified slate after Gantz approached only three of its four factions, leaving out Balad.  

President Reuven Rivlin announced Wednesday he is tasking Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz with forming the next governing coalition, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he failed to do so.

Gantz is reportedly not working toward establishing a minority government with either the ultra-Orthodox or the Joint List, and is continuing to attempt to form a broad unity government with Netanyahu's Likud.

During the official ceremony in which Rivlin handed Gantz the mandate, the president said that "we all have to create the conditions needed to resolve [Israel's political] deadlock."

The president added that "It's important to remember that as long as entire sectors [of Israeli society] are boycotted, as long as there is no compromise to create a partnership between big as well as small parties, a government won't be established.

"I've proposed an outline which aims to pave the path for Likud and Kahol Lavan to establish a unity government. There is no reason to hold a third round election," Rivlin said.

Shortly after receiving the mandate from Rivlin, the Kahol Lavan leader spoke with Netanyahu and suggested that the two meet. The premier replied he would be heading negotiation talks on behalf of the 55 right-wing bloc he heads.

This is the first time in 10 years that a candidate other the Netanyahu is to attempt to form a government. In the 2009 election, Tzipi Livni's centrist Kadima party won more seats than Likud, but failed to form a majority coalition government, resulting in Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Gantz now has 21 more days to try to form a coalition and if negotiations fail, any lawmaker backed by a majority of at least 61 Knesset members would be given a go at forming a coalition.

If no other lawmaker will be tapped by Knesset members within 21 days, or if they are unable to form a government, Israel will find itself heading for a third election within a year.