[ Editor’s Note: Netanyahu continues to play his delay tactics game on Benny Gantz, squeezing him for all he can get in a new coalition deal. I had suspected this when the initial attempt was made, as it broke up the Blue and White coalition which can probably never be put back together again.
That gave Bibi a tremendous advantage, because a negotiation stalemate would put him in a much better position to garner more votes in a new election round.
Bibi himself is being pushed hard by the ultra-Orthodox right wing that wants to get the Justice Department to install religious control over the significant liberal section of Israel, whom it despises, just one notch above the Palestinians. Bibi of course wants to make sure he cannot be prosecuted. Imagine that.
He has played cat and mouse with Gantz by at first acceding to the remaining Blue and White party having the Justice Minister position, and then taking it back when the rabbis screamed to high heaven.
These delaying tactics bought Bibi time and has also tamped down the fears of the virus damage, as Israel with its single airport and strong border controls has a good handle on its coronavirus problem. In a new 4th election Bibi will claim of course that he beat the virus for Israel.
But there was an exception with the ultra-Orthodox community, where segments ignored the social distancing guidelines and generated a large number of infections, which absorbed a larger share of Israel’s virus fighting capacity resources at the expense of fellow citizens, which the Ultras do not give a hoot for.
If one of these parties were non-Jews, there would be cries to heaven of “Anti-semitism”, but when they dish it out to each other, that term is not used… Jim W. Dean ]
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– First published … April, 14, 2020 –
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has extended the mandate of centrist Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz to form a unity government as coalition talks with rightist rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, remain deadlocked.
Gantz had been given 28 days to clinch a power-sharing deal with Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, after Israel’s March 2 polls, Israel’s third elections in a year.
The rival leaders, however, were unable to reach an agreement before a deadline passed at midnight Monday. They asked the Israeli president early on Tuesday to extend the deadline to form a joint coalition to midnight Wednesday.
Rivlin acceded to the 48-hour extension request “on the understanding that they are very close to reaching an agreement,” according to a statement from his office.
Gantz and Netanyahu met overnight in a last-ditch effort to resolve differences and later issued a joint statement claiming that they had made “significant progress” in forming an emergency administration to end Israel’s unprecedented political deadlock amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If the pair fails to clinch a deal, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) will have 21 days to come up with a candidate for prime minister endorsed by 61 members of the 120-seat legislature.
If that also fails, Israel could be headed for an extraordinary fourth straight election, sending people back to the ballot box in just over a year.
Just hours before the original deadline, both Netanyahu and Gantz delivered separate televised statements on Monday night and expressed their desire for a coalition administration, citing the emergency created by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We will keep making every effort to achieve the unity,” Netanyahu said in a speech that began with his explanation of the latest restrictions imposed over the pandemic, which has so far infected 11,586 Israelis and killed 116.
“Benny, I’m waiting for you in the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem” al-Quds, he tweeted later. “Let’s meet and sign even tonight on forming a national emergency government that will save lives and work for the citizens of Israel.”
Gantz, an ex-military chief, urged Netanyahu to come to an agreement or risk dragging Israel into an unwanted election.
“Netanyahu, we have arrived at the moment of truth. The citizens of Israel expect us — both of us — to make difficult decisions,” he said.
Coalition talks reached an impasse last week over a demand by Netanyahu, who faces an impending corruption trial, to have more influence over judicial appointments.
On Monday, Gantz reportedly agreed to the plea, drawing criticisms from his former political allies.
“I am not prepared to believe that Blue and White would give Bibi (Netanyahu) an immunity law,” Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wrote on social media. “Even the Right would not give Bibi the personal immunity law that he wanted.”
Similarly, Telem party leader Moshe Ya’alon stressed that although Gantz may have good intentions, he has been tricked by a cynical criminal trying to evade justice.
Gantz said in response that “no one can preach to me about politics, and no one will take me away from my deep belief that Israel must come first.”
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