the three men sit smiling; gantz and bibi hold hands
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Benny Gantz flank Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the president's residence in Jerusalem, Sept. 23, 2019. (JTA/Haim Zach-Israeli Government Press Office)

Gantz and Netanyahu to make 11th-hour attempt to form government

With a third election looming in less than a year, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are taking a final 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 chose 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.”

Marcy Oster
Marcy Oster

Israel-based JTA correspondent


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