JERUSALEM: Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main opponent in the country’s general election, on Thursday rejected the ‘unity government’ proposal.
In a major development following Tuesday’s polls, Netanyahu said he preferred to form a right-wing coalition, but that the results showed it was not possible.
He urged Gantz to join him in forming a unity government instead, and the two men shook hands when they crossed paths at a memorial event later.
But on Thursday afternoon, Gantz made clear that he would have to be prime minister of a unity government, noting that results so far put his centrist Blue and White two seats ahead of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud.
Gantz spoke to journalists after Netanyahu called for them to join together in a unity government as results from Tuesday’s vote showed neither with an obvious path to form a majority coalition.
Gantz’s centrist Blue and White is nevertheless two seats ahead of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, according to results published by Israeli media with 97 percent of the vote counted.
The former army general said his alliance had the most seats and he should lead the next government.
Listen To Everyone
“The public voted clearly in favour of unity,” Gantz said.
“Blue and White has at the time I am speaking won 33 seats, while Netanyahu has not obtained a sufficient majority to form a coalition as he hoped.”
He went on to say that “we will listen to everyone, but we will not accept mandates imposed on us.”
Moshe Yaalon, a senior leader from Gantz’s Party, announced, “We will not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu.”
Netanyahu’s stark admission followed an election which has threatened his status as the country’s longest-serving prime minister — one who also faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead.