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Netanyahu and rival Gantz meet for first time since Israel elections

Netanyahu and Benny Gantz
Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Gantz. Photos: Menahem Kahana/AFP; Amir Levy via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz met on Monday for the first time since this month's elections.

Why it matters: The 2 leaders were summoned to a trilateral meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his residence in Jerusalem in an attempt to break the political deadlock and start negotiations on forming a unity government. The president of Israel is largely a ceremonial post, but Rivlin does have the authority to give a mandate to either Gantz or Netanyahu to form the next government.

Between the lines: Rivlin is looking to broker a power-sharing deal between the 2 that will include a rotation in the prime minister job — which will prove to be an obstacle.

  • Both Gantz and Netanyahu demand being first to serve as prime minister for a term of 2 years before turning it over to their opponent.
  • Gantz demands to be the first because his party won more seats in the elections. Netanyahu, on the other hand, demands to be prime minister first because it's likely the only way that he can avoid pending indictments for corruption.

What to watch: At the end of the 2.5 hour meeting, Gantz and Netanyahu issued a joint statement saying that the negotiation teams of Blue and White and the Likud will meet tomorrow, and that another trilateral meeting with President Rivlin will be held on Wednesday.

  • President Rivlin said at the end of the meeting that both Netanyahu and Gantz have to find a solution in order to prevent a third election. He stressed that any unity government must be based on parity between both parties.

Go deeper: Israel's Arab Joint List endorses Benny Gantz in bid to oust Netanyahu