The mandate of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a government expired at night night Wednesday. President Reuven Rivlin is expected to initiate a three-week period in which any Knesset member can form a government, and if none do, Israel would go to a fourth election.
But Netanyahu is now reportedly concerned about what may happen when his rotation period as prime minister ends after a year and a half, and Gantz’s begins, with the former becoming deputy prime minister.
The position of deputy prime minister is akin to that of any other minister, and regular government ministers are required to resign if under indictment, as Netanyahu currently is.
Kan News reported Wednesday night that Blue and White sources were insisting that “we will not let Netanyahu turn the coalition agreement into an immunity [from prosecution] agreement.”
Likud is also demanding that the position of foreign minister remains in its hands, while Blue and White is seeking a substantial ministerial portfolio in return for such a concession.
Another problematic aspect of the agreement is a legislative mechanism which would guarantee that Gantz would serve as prime minister once Netanyahu’s period ends after 18 months.
The Likud is now worried about this legislation however and is disputing how they should be implemented.
Gantz’s reported concession to allow new elections if the High Court rules Netanyahu cannot form a government since he is under criminal indictment angered his former political allies.
While Gantz faced pressure from his Left, Netanyahu was pressured from the Right. During a phone meeting with Yamina head Naftali Bennett and other Yamina MKs, the prime minister vowed that in any agreement, he would not give up control over the Judicial Selection Committee.
Right-wing former Blue and White MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser promised Netanyahu on Monday that if he signed a unity government agreement with Gantz, they would help him on legal issues.’
Hendel met earlier Monday with the heads of the Council of Jewish Communities in the occupied West Bank territories of Judea and Samaria, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade him and Hauser to join a 61 MK, right-wing coalition without Blue and White.
The application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements is in jeopardy unless Netanyahu forms a right-wing, 61-member government with Hendel and Hauser now, the settler leaders warned on Monday.
The situation is now in their hands, Yesah director-general Yigal Dilmoni told The Jerusalem Post.
Jerusalem Post / ABC Flash Point News 2020.