(November 18, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that a minority government dependent on the Arab parties would constitute a “national disaster” of historic proportions.
“We are in a fateful moment for the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu at an emergency Likud rally in Tel Aviv. “If a minority government like this is formed, Tehran, Ramallah and Gaza will celebrate as they celebrate after each terror attack. It would be a historic national disaster for the State of Israel, and we cannot allow this.”
Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid said in response to Netanyahu’s remarks that the prime minister was “hysterical,” and called on him to abandon his right-wing bloc and join a unity government.
“If Netanyahu is so hysterical over the idea of a minority government, he should come and form a unity government with us,” said Lapid. “He should break up with his ultra-Orthodox-messianic bloc, agree to serve second [as prime minister in a rotation deal with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz], and we will have a good civil unity government that will work for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, within 48 hours.”
Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh slammed Netanyahu’s remarks on Sunday, calling him a “bitter criminal and a sore loser,” and saying “all of us, Arabs and our Jewish partners, will breathe a sigh of relief the day he goes.”
A new poll released on Sunday shows 49 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens would support a minority government led by Blue and White and backed by Joint List lawmakers, even if it included the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party. The survey, commissioned by Army Radio and conducted last week, involved 272 respondents and had 4.9 percent margin of error.
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who has a history of condemning Joint List MKs as traitors, has repeatedly stated that he would not join a minority government backed by the Arab parties.
His resignation as Defense Minister in November of last year over a ceasefire with Hamas led to ultimately sent the country to elections.
Channel 12 reported on Sunday that Blue and White co-leaders Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi would only accept a minority government if Lieberman joins.
At an event in Tel Aviv Sunday night, Lieberman said “it is impossible to deal with a minority government,” but also indicated his desire to avert a third round of elections.
Following a meeting with Netanyahu earlier on Sunday that both described as “positive,” said Lieberman. “I hope we can announce by midnight Wednesday that we have a broad unity government.”
Gantz, who was given the mandate to form a government after Netanyahu failed to do so following the country’s second round of elections in September, has until Wednesday to assemble a government coalition. If he fails, MKs can choose another candidate or decide to head back to what would be Israel’s third election in less than a year.
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