Netanyahu Signs Second Deal With Right-wing Bloc Not to Sit With Gantz

'If, perish the thought, a minority government is sworn in with the support of Joint list or part of it, we will not join this government at any time,' the agreement says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting of Likud party members at the Knesset in Jerusalem on October 3, 2019.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed another agreement on Wednesday with his right-wing allies aimed at making it more difficult for Kahol Lavan's Benny Gantz to try to forge a minority government with Israel's center-left parties.

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"If, perish the thought, a minority government is sworn in with the support of Joint List or part of it, we will not join this government at any time, we will vote against it and work in any way to bring it down,” the agreement says.

It comes in addition to an agreement the premier signed with a bloc of 55 right-wing lawmakers, in which they committed to support only a coalition headed by Netanyahu that includes their bloc, or a national unity government with a rotating premiership.

The deal materialized as talks for a new government were deadlocked. Netanyahu has another week to try and form a coalition before he must return the mandate to President Reuven Rivlin, who could pass it on to Gantz.

The possibility that Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and Gantz would support a minority government backed externally by the Joint List and the Democratic Union worries Netanyahu, who has been trying for the past few weeks to extract a commitment from Lieberman that he would not be a part of such a coalition.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Lieberman did not deny that such a scenario exists, but called it “spin” and said he would not discuss it.

“Do they want to sit and negotiate seriously with us? First of all, let them break up the Haredi-messianic bloc and then we’ll talk about everything,” he wrote.

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) criticized attempts on the right to block the establishment of a left-wing government supported by Lieberman.

“I don’t understand my colleagues who are trying to extract a commitment from Lieberman not to be a bridge to a minority government of the left and the Arabs,” he tweeted on Wednesday. It’s not a bad idea at all.

"A government like that won’t survive too long and after that the right wing will win the election big time.”

The latest agreement follows a deal Netanyahu announced after last month's election that the right-wing parties had agreed to negotiate with him as one bloc. “Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and Hayamin Hehadash, decided unanimously that we’re going to negotiate together for the establishment of a government under my leadership,” he said at the time.