Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman has no intention of reneging on his campaign promises, and on Sunday he announced his demands from the Blue&White party as precondition for joining a government led by Benny Gantz. Among his demands: legislation permitting civil marriages, handing conversions to local rabbis, and letting local municipalities decide whether they want public transportation on Shabbat. And equal IDf recruitment for all — Haredim and non-Haredim.
Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz responded to Liberman’s demands in a clipped tweet: “Agreed. We must move forward.”
Gantz’s capitulation means that the Haredi parties will not enter his government, and won’t even agree to meet and formulate basic rules for such a government. This would make it difficult for Gantz to cobble together a stable, majority government, and would reduce his options even more. Gantz must be able in the future to invite the Haredim to join his minority government, but in order to have a government at all, he must agree to Liberman’s anti-Haredi demands.
Mind you, the Haredim have 16 seats in the 23rd Knesset, compared with Liberman’s 7.
President Rivlin is expected to begin the round of consultations with party leaders this week on whom they recommend to receive the mandate to form a coalition government. Rivlin has already leaked to the press his idea of bypassing the tedious and fruitless 2- to 3-week periods he would normally have given Netanyahu and Gantz – and move straight to throwing the process to the Knesset.
Whether receiving an explicit assignment from the president or running hand to hand combat in the Knesset, Gantz’s fate depends entirely on the goodwill of the Joint Arab List MKs. In the meantime, their representatives have been telling every media outlet in Israel that would point a mic at them that they do not intend to recommend Gantz, at least not before he commits publicly to legislation favoring the Arab sector, most notably the repeal of the Kaminitz Law which imposes strict measures against illegal construction in the Arab sector, and not applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.