Photo Credit: Flash90
Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz visits a voting station in Rosh HaAyin, September 17, 2019.

Blue&White officials told Kan 11 News on Sunday that their party would need the Haredi parties, more than it would Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu, to form a coalition. They believe that Liberman would be a more difficult partner in cobbling a coalition, while the 17 Haredi mandates, should they decide to join in, would make it possible to form a center-left-Haredim coalition.

According to these officials, this is the reason Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz has so far avoided stating his intention to form a secular government without the Haredim, which Liberman is demanding, seeing as such a statement would shut the door before those savory 17 seats. Blue&White with 33 mandates, with Labor and the Democratic Camp’s 11 and the Haredi 17 add up to the much coveted 61 seats.

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The left has partnered with the Haredim in several coalition governments in the past, most notably in 1992, which resulted in the Oslo accords. Yamina’s predecessor, NRP, used to be a practically permanent partner in Labor governments.

President Reuven Rivlin will begin a round of consultations with the new Knesset’s faction leaders on the road to assigning the job of potential prime minister to Benjamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz. As of this morning, none of the candidates are able to gather 61 recommendations, giving the president enormous powers in deciding who would be the next leader of Israel. In light of this, the president’s residence has announced that Rivlin might invite both Netanyahu and Gantz to a three-way meeting, to examine the prospects of forming a unity government. Should they refuse, he would meet with each one of them separately.

If Gantz gets the mandate to form a coalition first, due to his 2-seat advantage over Netanyahu, the Blue&White chairman would have 28 days to try to form a government, and should he fail the president could grant him an additional 14 days. Should he fail again, the mandate would be passed to Netanyahu, who would receive 28 days without the possibility of an extension. Should Netanyahu also fail, the Knesset would have three weeks to propose a third candidate, and should that fail, Israel would face a third election, possibly inside the same year.

A deal with the Haredim would have to include a solution to their hostility towards MK Yair Lapid, who, as finance minister in Netanyahu’s 2013 government, slashed their government stipends, most injuriously government support for their children. Gantz would have to come up with a solution that won’t involve a Lapid faction walkout and still make it worthwhile for the Haredim to join.

Meanwhile, the Blue&White party has committed to the Joint Arab List to repeal the Kaminitz Law in exchange for the Arabs’ recommending Benny Gantz to the president, Channel 13 News reported Saturday night. The 2017 Kaminitz Law, authored by Deputy Attorney General (civil) Erez Kaminitz, amended the Knesset Planning and Building Law, improving government’s ability to deal with illegal construction in Israel’s Arab sector.

Meir Deutsch, CEO of the Regavim movement, which is affiliated with MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina), reminded the Israeli public that “the Kaminitz Law is one of the most important moves the outgoing Knesset has promoted, and following its enactment illegal construction in the Galilee fell by 50%.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) said on Sunday that “it is in the interest of all the rightwing parties to maintain the partnership” they all signed last week, but which, after all is said and done, nets only 55 seats. Levin suggested a Gantz-led coalition is not desirable to the Haredim, who, admittedly, enjoyed their best term in the outgoing government.

But if Netanyahu is unable to deliver the goods while Gantz can, United Torah Judaism and Shas are likely to follow their voters’ interest rather than their relatively new loyalty to the right.

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