Gantz's No. 2 Says Arab-backed Minority Government Better Than Another Election

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Benny Gantz, right, and Yair Lapid shake hands at the Kahol Lavan headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 3, 2020.
Benny Gantz, right, and Yair Lapid shake hands at the Kahol Lavan headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 3, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Senior Kahol Lavan member Yair Lapid said Tuesday he prefers a minority government endorsed by Arab-majority alliance Joint List to a fourth election cycle, as Benny Gantz's party scrambles to secure a breakthrough in coalition talks after last week's general election.

Lapid, who is second on the Kahol Lavan slate and considered one of its four co-leaders, said in a Facebook post that Joint List lawmakers will vote for the formation of a Gantz-led government "and that will be the end" of their part in it.

Benjamin Netanyahu "has collaborated with them in this way a thousand times," Lapid wrote.

Citing Arab lawmakers alleged "support for terrorism," Netanyahu and his Likud party bashed Gantz and Kahol Lavan for forming a government with the support of the Joint List in the aftermath of the March 2 election, which ended with no decisive victory for either of the two major blocs in Knesset.

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Lapid said the best option would be a national unity government, with rotation for the role of prime minister between Gantz, who would serve first, and Netanyahu, who would serve second. Such an option was "outright rejected" by Netanyahu, Lapid said.

Out of the remaining options, Lapid said a coalition with Labor-Gesher-Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu, which could later on accept more parties, "is not the government we wanted, but it's much better than the current paralysis."

Party leader Gantz spoke to the leaders of three of the four factions that make up the Joint List on Monday, and is set to meet with representatives of all four factions, including the hawkish Balad.

After their converstion on Monday, Gantz said that he intends to form a government that will serve all of Israel's citizens, both Jews and Arabs, signalling potential collaboration with the Joint List, in what would be an unusual move in Israeli politics.

Speaking with Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, senior lawmaker Ahmad Tibi and MK Mansour Abbas, Gantz also repeated intentions to "prevent a fourth election." 

Odeh tweeted after the meeting: “We stick to our goal of replacing Netanyahu's legacy, and it starts by respecting the united voice of the Arab public and our Jewish partners.

Earlier on Monday, Gantz met with Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman, praising the session as a productive first round of talks.

On Sunday, representatives on behalf of all parties elected to the Knesset will meet with President Reuven Rivlin and declare to him their endorsement for a candidate for prime minister. Rivlin would then task either Gantz or Netanyahu with forming a government.

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