The Blue&White negotiations team sent a message to its Likud counterparts saying they have no intention of conducting any further meetings in view of the fact that these meetings have not made any real progress, Reshet Bet radio reported Tuesday morning.
For now, the Blue&White team has decided to cut off its contact with the Likud as long as they do not accept the principle that party chairman Benny Gantz would serve first as prime minister in a broad rotation government.
In conversations so far, Blue&White has offered to enact a special law stipulating that Benjamin Netanyahu would first serve as deputy prime minister—with the same status as prime minister—in an attempt to persuade him to agree to be second in a rotation government. This is so that he would not be required to resign from his position in the Cabinet and the Knesset to face the criminal indictments against him in court.
Meanwhile, according to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Netanyahu must decide within 30 days, starting yesterday, whether to ask the Knesset for immunity from prosecution. It is likely the PM would reach a decision only at the end of this period, based on whether or not the country would go for a third election in one year.
At present, there is no majority in the Knesset for a request from Netanyahu for immunity, seeing as all the opposition parties, as well as Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu, oppose it. Of course, should Netanyahu submit such a request, the issue of his desire for immunity from justice would take center stage in every party’s election campaign, including those on the right (who would promise their voters to save Bibi’s hide).
The Knesset Committee would be in charge of recommending to the Knesset whether or not to grant Netanyahu his immunity. But there hasn’t been a Knesset Committee in existence since the 20th Knesset (we’re currently holding by the 22nd Knesset, facing a possible 23rd).
The decision whether or not to establish a Knesset Committee is vested in the Regulating Committee, which is headed by former General Secretary of the Histadrut labor union and Blue&White stalwart MK Avi Nissenkorn. So that even the decision on appointing a committee that would certainly reject a Netanyahu request for immunity is in the hands of the PM’s enemies.
It’s going to be a long and chilly winter for the Likud leader – assuming he remains Likud leader, which is another story.