Gantz Says He Wants Unity With Likud, but Not ‘At Any Price’

Knesset speaker says the two sides were very close to an agreement, but negotiations were halted after Netanyahu’s envoys demanded to interfere with the body that appoints judges to Israeli courts

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Benny Gantz in Ramat Gan, March 2020.
Benny Gantz in Ramat Gan, March 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Unity government negotiations between Kahol Lavan and Likud were halted because of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demands to interfere with the work of the Judicial Appointments Committee, Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz said.

The two sides had been “very close to an agreement,” a Facebook post by Gantz, written Wednesday morning, read. “Netanyahu and his people came with a demand to harm the proper working of the Judicial Appointments Committee, in opposition to what had already been agreed,” Gantz wrote. The Judicial Appointments Committee is the body that appoints judges to Israeli courts.

“We informed them [the Likud envoys] that we wanted the establishment of a national emergency government – but not at any price. Joining forces at a time of crisis is important – but at such times the preservation of democracy and rule of law on behalf of Israel’s future is important and essential,” he wrote.

Likud issued a statement in response accusing Gantz’s side to be breaking an understanding. “From the beginning, it was agreed that the unity government would be based on two clear principles: joint decision-making on every subject, and the advancement of annexation. Unfortunately, at the very last moment, it was Kahol Lavan has broken these agreements, which are the necessary basis for every equal government.”

The statement added, "The moment Kahol Lavan returns to these original agreements, we can complete the negotiation and establish a unity government. Kahol Lavan's false media spin is not advancing unity, but distancing it." 

Explaining the stalemate in negotiations in his Facebook post, Gantz wrote “The people of Israel expect us, their leaders, to act in the political arena too. This is not for playing for time, arm-wrestling and petty politics. This is how I am obligated to act.”  

The post also specifies the agreement was almost a done deal when the issue of the judicial committee was raised. “The negotiations between us and Likud on establishing a national emergency government were almost completed successfully this week. No side received all of its requests, not us too. But every side received the things critical to them in order for us to serve the citizens of Israel faithfully during the period ahead of us,” Gantz wrote.

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