(April 20, 2020 / Israel Hayom) Two hours of talks to finalize a deal for a unity government fell apart Monday morning after Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz walked out of the meeting with incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It appears that the talks reached an impasse over the issue of the Judges Selection Committee.
Following the breakdown in negotiations, Gantz, who is currently Knesset Speaker, appeared to be heading to the Knesset, where he is expected to launch the process of passing legislation to ensure that candidates under indictment cannot serve as prime minister, legislation that has been characterized as personally targeting Netanyahu.
While Blue and White and Netanyahu’s Likud Party have been at the brink of agreement on most major issues for days now, on Sunday officials in Blue and White told Israel Hayom that it would be a “fateful day” for the talks.
“If by [Sunday] night no solution is reached for the issues that remain, it will be a lot harder to arrive at an agreement later on,” they said.
According to officials familiar with the negotiations, this past weekend did see a significant breakthrough, as Gantz reportedly told his associates, but complications arose when a draft deal was outlined. Most of the dispute on Sunday had to do with a guarantee that a rotation agreement for the premiership would still be honored if the Supreme Court were to intervene and rule that Netanyahu could not continue in that role because of the indictments against him, according to the officials.
Blue and White is concerned that Netanyahu might remain prime minister for another year-and-a-half, and only after that point would the Supreme Court disqualify him.
According to what has been agreed thus far, if that were to happen, it would prevent the rotation from proceeding in full because Netanyahu would not be serving as acting prime minister, which would force an automatic dissolution of the Knesset. The two sides are trying to find a formula that will allow the rotation to go ahead as planned without any “drastic” steps, said the officials.
Meanwhile, some in the Likud Party were claiming that Blue and White was trying to run out the clock and come up with answers for every possible scenario concerning the rotation agreement.
“The precision in the [deal’s] clauses and the involvement of lawyers, which [arises] mostly from mutual distrust between the two sides, is what is holding up a final unity government deal,” said Likud officials.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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