Gantz Eyes Unity With Netanyahu First as PM, Even at Price of Breaking Up Kahol Lavan

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz is inclined to form a unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu serving as prime minister first in a rotation, despite Gantz’s suspicions of his rival and even at the price of breaking up Kahol Lavan, political sources said.

Gantz is conditioning the move on the enacting of a law to ensure that the rotation takes place on a set date.

Earlier this week, Gantz said his broad unity government would “heal Israeli society of the coronavirus, as well of the virus of hatred and division.”

But former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, one of Kahol Lavan’s four leaders, refuses to join a unity government led by Netanyahu, even if an agreement on setting up such a cabinet is reached with Likud, the sources said. Ya’alon declined to comment.

The sources said another of Kahol Lavan’s top four, former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi, told Gantz he would not join a government supported by the Joint List of Arab parties.

According to the sources, so far it appears that the right and center-left in the unity government would have an equal number of ministers – Likud, the ultra-Orthodox parites and the far-right Yamina on one side and Kahol Lavan, Labor and Meretz on the other. This would happen even though the right-wing bloc has more seats in the Knesset.

Kahol Lavan’s Gabi Ashkenazi, left, and Benny Gantz in Sderot, February 2020.Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Officially, Kahol Lavan said in a statement Thursday: “Talks with Likud’s negotiating team have been halted  … and contrary to media reports, there are no agreements.”