Sep 23, 2019

Netanyahu and rival Gantz meet for first time since Israel elections

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

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Israeli president gives Netanyahu first shot to form government

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government after negotiations for a unity government with Benny Gantz, leader of an opposition center-left bloc, broke down.

Why it matters: Netanyahu would need 61 members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to support his government. His right-wing block won just 55 seats in the Sept. 17 election, though, and he has no clear path to a majority.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

Israel's Netanyahu fails to form government for 2nd time in 6 months

Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned the mandate for forming a government to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday after failing to cobble together enough support for a coalition within the 28-day timeframe that Rivlin had granted.

Why it matters: This is the second time in six months that Netanyahu has failed to form a government after an election. Benny Gantz, leader of the center-left Blue and White party, will now get an opportunity to form a coalition, but he's also unlikely to succeed. The chances are growing that Israel will be forced to hold a third election this year.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019

Scoop: Kushner expected to meet Netanyahu and Gantz on Israel trip

Kushner and Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jared Kushner will travel to Israel during the last week of October, Israeli officials tell me. He is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Benny Gantz, the man seeking to replace Netanyahu as prime minister.

Why it matters: Kushner knows Netanyahu well after their many meetings, but this will be his first meeting with Gantz since his entry into politics. This is another acknowledgement by the Trump administration, which had dealt solely with Netanyahu for two and a half years, that Gantz is a key political player in Israel.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019