December 10, 2019

Gantz and Netanyahu to Meet Night Before Deadline in Final Attempt to Form Government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Benny Gantz flank Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the president's residence in Jerusalem, Sept. 23, 2019. They met to discuss forming a unity government. (Haim Zach/Israeli Government Press Office)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — With a third election looming in less than a year, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are taking an 11th-hour shot at forming a unity government in Israel.

The meeting will take place at 10 p.m. Tuesday, a day before Gantz’s mandate to form a government runs out. If Gantz cannot form a government by midnight Wednesday, lawmakers have 21 days to recommend someone else to form a government or could decide to call for new elections.

Gantz will meet two hours earlier with Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Liberman has been holding out for a secular unity government comprised of his party, Netanyahu’s Likud and Blue and White.

Netanyahu and Liberman spoke earlier Tuesday, characterizing their meeting in a joint statement as “positive and substantive.”

Netanyahu had failed to form a government coalition in the wake of elections in September, as well as in April.

If Gantz and Netanyahu fail to form a coalition, Gantz could choose to form a minority government with support from the outside by the Arab List of predominately Arab parties.

Netanyahu at a rally on Sunday night warned against a “dangerous minority government that is reliant on terror supporters,” referring to the Arab List. Arab List head Ayman Odeh accused Netanyahu of trying to foment a “civil war.”