Israel’s prime minister and his main rival have opened a new round of unity talks in the latest effort to avoid an unprecedented third parliamentary election in less than a year.
Sunday’s meeting was their first round of direct talks since President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tasked former military chief Benny Gantz with trying to form a government.
Israel has been paralyzed by political deadlock following an inconclusive election last month, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud nor Gantz’s Blue and White party in control of a 61-seat majority in parliament.
A joint statement from Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White alliance after the meeting, however, did not herald any breakthrough.
The English-language statement said:
The two discussed the structure of political options available. Another meeting is anticipated between the two.
With Blue and White controlling 33 seats in parliament and Likud holding 32, the two parties together have enough support to form a government. While both men support the idea of a unity deal, they have disagreed over who should lead it.
Netanyahu wants his traditional religious and nationalist allies to sit with Likud and Blue and White.
Gantz is not eager to form a government with Netanyahu’s hardline allies. He also refuses to serve under a Netanyahu-led government while the long-serving leader faces possible indictment for corruption charges.
Israel’s lawyer general is to decide on whether to charge Netanyahu in the coming weeks.
It is the first time in more than 10 years that a candidate other than Netanyahu has been given the opportunity to form a government.
Source: Palestine Chronicle