Oct 23, 2019

Benny Gantz gets his chance to form Israel's next government

Gantz (L) and Rivlin. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of the center-left Blue and White party, has been formally granted a mandate to form Israel's next government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he'd failed to do so for the second time in six months.

Why it matters: This is the first time since 2008 that anyone other than Netanyahu has been asked to form a government. In a speech carried live by all of Israel's TV networks, President Reuven Rivlin referred to Netanyahu as "the outgoing prime minister." Still, Gantz faces long odds of cobbling together a majority.

What he's saying: Gantz said he hopes to form a “liberal unity government” and is planning to meet with all political factions in the next few days including the Arab Joint List. Gantz said his government will be open to all parties who agree with his platform and reject racism and violence.

  • Gantz also called for negotiations to begin immediately for a unity government including Blue and White and Netanyhu's right-wing Likud.
  • Such negotiations stalled previously because Gantz and Netanyahu both refused to let the other serve as prime minister first.
  • Gantz warned Netanyahu that if he drags Israel into a third election this year the Israeli public will not forgive him.
  • He urged Netanyahu, who faces looming corruption indictments, “to act responsibly and realize that his legal status and the results of the elections point at the need for change."

What’s next: Gantz has 28 days to form a coalition. He is expected to meet separately tomorrow with Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, who has emerged as a kingmaker because his secular conservative party is allied with neither Gantz nor Netanyahu.

  • If Gantz fails, Rivlin will have 21 days to find a solution. Otherwise, Israel will have yet another election.

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Netanyahu rival Gantz fails to form a government in Israel

Gantz (L) with President Rivlin. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, has notified Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that he has failed to form a coalition government ahead of tonight's deadline.

Why it matters: Gantz's failure comes 28 days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself failed to form a government following September's deadlocked elections. Never before have both leading candidates failed to form a government. Israel could soon be headed for its third elections in less than a year.

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Jared Kushner meets Benny Gantz for the first time in Israel

Jared Kushner meets with Benny Gantz (C) and Yair Lapid (L), Jerusalem, Oct. 28. Photo: Jeries Mansour/U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner met Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, for the first time on Monday in Jerusalem.

Why it matters: This was the first meeting between Kushner and Gantz, who has 23 days to form a government. It shows that the Trump administration is adapting to the new political reality in Israel.

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U.S. gave Benny Gantz a heads-up on settlements announcement

Gantz. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement yesterday on the legality of Israeli settlements, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman notified Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political rival, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, effectively tied with Netanyahu in Israel's election two months ago. Gantz was asked to form a government after Netanyahu failed to do so, but his mandate expires on Wednesday. There was speculation that the U.S. announcement was timed to help Netanyahu politically.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019