Israel Election: Gantz's Party Nixes Negotiation Meeting With Netanyahu's Likud Over Unity Government

The two parties' representatives were slated to convene on Wednesday ■ Likud accuses Yair Lapid and says Netanyahu 'stunned' by decision, calls on Gantz to reconsider

Gantz speaks at a Kahol Lavan party meeting, September 26, 2019.
Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Kahol Lavan, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz, has announced that a delegation on its behalf will not meet with Likud's negotiation team on Wednesday as it was scheduled to.

"At this stage, the preliminary conditions to hold an efficient meeting among the negotiation teams have not been met, and for this reason a meeting will not be held on Wednesday. Should it be necessary, we may hold a meeting later this week or next week," the party stated. 

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Kahol Lavan also stated that under the current circumstances, it is unlikely that the premier and Gantz will hold a one-on-one meeting.

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Netanyahu's Likud party released an official statement saying it was "stunned by Kahol Lavan's decision to blow up negotiations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Gantz and to cancel the meeting set up between the two negotiation teams for tomorrow."

"Kahol Lavan decided to halt unity government negotiations and go to elections – all because Yair Lapid is sabotaging the unity government because he doesn't want to see a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz; he will only agree to a rotation between himself and Gantz," the party's statement charged. 

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is reiterating his call to Gantz to show responsibility, prevent another election and meet with him tomorrow as planned," Likud said.

Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearing regarding the corruption cases against him is slated to begin on Wednesday and be held over four days

After negotiation teams failed to reach an agreement Sunday morning, Netanyahu phoned Gantz, who is in London, and recommended that the two meet immediately upon Gantz's return to Israel on Wednesday. The prime minister even offered to come to Gantz's home, a Likud statement said.

Negotiation teams for the two parties agreed to meet on Wednesday at 10 A.M. at the Knesset. A meeting between Gantz and Netanyahu was expected to take place Wednesday evening.

Following the failure of negotiations Sunday, Kahol Lavan released a statement saying that "Likud is stuck on 'Bibi will start,'" referring to the rotation of prime ministers in a unity government. Kahol Lavan also objects to Likud's insistance on including its entire bloc of 55 right-wing MKs in the coalition.

Likud, meanwhile, released a statement bemoaning the "great disappointment" of Kahol Lavan's continuous refusal to accept the unity government proposed by President Reuven Rivlin, a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz.