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Why Netanyahu was wise to take first place and why Liberman may still be the one to watch

Over the past week, Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has proven himself to be a creative politician determined to unravel the political problem Gordian Fudge facing Israel, because the September 17 election caused a stalemate between Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the blue and white party Benny & # 39; ego Gantz.

Likud won 32 Knesset seats, while the Blue and White secured 33, and after Rivlin met all the faction leaders, the right formed a 55-seat block with 54 left (of which only 44 would actually sit in a Gantz-led government), Rivlina, to give Netanyahu the first bang when forming a coalition.

But Netanyahu or Gantz's chances of joining most of the Knesset are low. Knowing this, the president proposed an original, even bold compromise, far beyond the political field of action.

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Rivlin proposes a power sharing model: Likud and the Blues and Whites will receive the same number of ministers, and Netanyahu and Gantz will hold the office of prime minister for two years, first Netanyahu. During these first two years, if Netanyahu had been charged in any of the three separate corruption investigations he faced, he would have stepped down and Gantz assumed the post of prime minister.

Seemingly both sides would be forced to find a better offer, but when both sides met to try to unite the unity agreement, it soon became clear that the key issue had to be resolved: who exactly was Likud?

President Reuven Rivlin meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem on September 23, 2019 (Haim Zach / GPO)

MK Yariv Levin, leading the negotiations on behalf of Likuda, explained at the first meeting of both parties on Tuesday that he represented the entire 55-right-wing bloc, namely Likud, ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, and Yamina (a fraction comprising the New Right, Home parties Jewish and National Union). In other words, Likud plus all the parties with which Blue and White promised their constituents that they would not share the government table; parties Yizrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman calls "Haredi and the messianist."

On the other side of the negotiating table, Yoram Turbowicz, whom Blues and Whites entrusted with leading unity, insisted that his party perceive Levin as representing only Likud.

In other words, the negotiating parties cannot even determine who they are negotiating for.

Why Netanyahu wanted to go first

Likud officials argued that, according to the Netanyahu compromise proposed by Rivlin, he would have to share ministerial spoils with his right-wing partners, which means Likud would have fewer ministers than the Blue and White. If so, why should the latter worry about who Likud represents in talks about unity?

But Blue and White know that there is more to it than just the number of wallets. In a government in which Netanyahu has 55 members of the Knesset, Gantz would have only 33 seats of the Blue and White – at best 39, if you count Worker Geshera, because everyone understands the Democratic Camp, and a joint list dominated by Arabs would never agree to join such a coalition . So no matter how the cookie falls apart, it won't brew.

Netanyahu could not agree to Rivlin's offer faster. In the absence of a real consensus, at first he would look better like a leader who agreed to everything the president suggested; will be able to remind the public if third elections are called.

But Netanyahu also wants to come to the trial before the prosecution with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, appointed on October 2, as current prime minister, regardless of the nature of the government, which may or may not go further. In this way, if he decides to conclude a deal, the prime minister will be his trading chip; he could offer a resignation in exchange for a favorable deal.

Blue and white again do not show the public why they rejected Rivlin's offer. All he has to do is point out that the price of the party and its supporters is too high, that it breaks the promise of forming a secular government and does not join the coalition led by Netanyahu, and that the other party is not forced to compromise on the promises of the campaign in parallel range. Society, or at least the Blue and White electorate, will understand.

Blue and white party leaders Benny Gantz (L) and Yair Lapid. (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90)

Instead, none of the leaders of Blue and White was able to give the public a clear message explaining not only why he rejected Rivlin's proposal, but also why he did his best to prevent Gantz being chosen as the first candidate to attempt to form a government.

Speaking to the faction on Thursday, Gantz sounded less than convincing, speaking from notes when he urged Netanyahu to come to the negotiating table with "clean hands, without [political] blocks or [media] rotates. "This is fine as a slogan, but he cannot honestly accuse the president of organizing the filming of the media.

Target Lapid

Meanwhile, Likud tries to score more points, sparing no effort to introduce Blue and White & # 39; s No. 2, Yair Lapid, as an irritable child whose behavior can destroy national unity for all.

In fact, however, Lapid is completely loyal to the promises of the Yesh Atid campaign; he should not be punished no political zigzag.

Blue and white is an alliance consisting of three parties: the Israeli Resistance Party Gantz, Yesh Atid Lapida and Telemu Moshe Ya’alon. Of the Heavenly and White leaders, Lapid is the most adamant and has not kept his promise that he will not rule with Netanyahu "even for a minute."

In general, the hostility of politicians against Netanyahu corresponds to how much he hurt them. In 2014, Netanyahu dismissed the then finance minister Lapid, and Ya & # 39; alon resigned as defense minister Netanyahu in 2016. None of them wants to serve again in the government of Netanyahu and neither of them wants to believe the word that Netanyahu says , especially when he talks about giving way.

On the other hand, Gantz was filmed by Netanyahu for the fourth year as the IDF Chief of Staff, and therefore has a more conciliatory approach to the prime minister. Several blue and white lawmakers are convinced that if it depended solely on Gantz, he would have accepted Rivlin's proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israeli leader Beytenu Avigdor Liberman sign a coalition agreement with the Israeli parliament on May 25, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

In this context, senior minister Likud told this reporter that the only way to reach a compromise in negotiations on unity is to resolve the blue and white. "In the current situation it is either [a third] choice."

See Liberman

Pressed at a government meeting, it is clear that Netanyahu does not really believe that he will be able to perform this task. But you never know that an opportunity may arise. In this respect, the observer is Liberman.

Israel Beyten's chair – a would-be king who refused to partner with Netanyahu after the April election and is again largely responsible for the political deadlock because his party, which won eight seats in the Knesset, did not support Netanyahu or Gantz as prime minister – this time she could still change his tune.

"Liberman is waiting for an official invitation to meet Netanyahu," said one of his colleagues to this reporter. This strikes a slightly different note than the usual Liberman line "if it's not a secular-liberal government of unity – don't call me."

Likud, blue and white negotiating teams are expected to meet again on Sunday. In the current situation, it does not seem that either party would want to listen to the other. Can Liberman introduce a completely new melody?

A version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on the sister page of The Times of Israel, Zman Yisrael.

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