All of the leaders of the right-wing bloc in the Knesset are committing to ensure that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abides by any rotation agreement reached with Kahol Lavan leader MK Benny Gantz, Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Hayamin Hehadash said on Monday.
Shaked was referring to a proposed arrangement to break the current deadlock in forming a government. It would have Netanyahu serve as prime minister for six months, after which Gantz would take over.
Responding to concern that Likud would dissolve the government rather than ceding power, Shaked said: “If Likud decides to dissolve the government after six months, we, the entire bloc, would remain with Gantz.”
The Knesset has just over a week before its mandate runs out to recommend a candidate to form the government. If no such candidate receives the support of 61 Knesset members by the deadline, the law requires that new Knesset elections, the third in a year, be held.
Shaked said in an interview with Channel 13 that the rotation proposal was “super fair,” and that she saw no reason not to agree to it. “We have to remember that we’re heading towards an election, and then [during the period leading up to the election], Netanyahu would remain prime minister for six months in any event, so why cause such a social rift and waste billions of shekels?” she remarked.
Earlier Monday, Gantz told a meeting of Kahol Lavan Knesset members that he did not want a third election, but was not willing to form a “nightmare government.” Addressing Netanyahu directly, Gantz said: “Kahol Lavan won the election, but we are prepared for a rotation. I will serve for two years while you can remain head of Likud.”
Likud said in response: “It is regrettable that Benny Gantz does not accept the challenge of a unity government that would bring about historic opportunities for Israel – among them a defense pact with the United States and extending Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. This moment must not be missed.”
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In a meeting of Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset members, party chairman Avigdor Lieberman criticized Likud and Arye Dery, the chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, over Dery’s statement that Lieberman had demanded 2 billion shekels ($576 million) for immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Lieberman called Dery’s statement “a bold-faced lie and pure racism” and added: “All of the coalition heads are silent like the silence of the lambs. All the heads of Likud have swallowed their tongues. I am telling the world – have a look at that silence when you go again to vote Likud.”
The director general of the Central Elections Committee, Orli Ades, announced on Monday that if the Knesset is dissolved, the earliest that elections could be held is February 25, about two weeks prior to the deadline provided by law.