March 13 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on political opponent Benny Gantz to help form an emergency unity government to address the coronavirus outbreak, but they’re at odds over who should be included.
Netanyahu made the recommendation and called Gantz Thursday night to discuss the idea of an emergency coalition government.
Gantz said he offered to send his Blue and White Party negotiating team to meet with Netanyahu’s, but the prime minister didn’t answer. A statement from Netanyahu’s Likud Party similarly said Gantz didn’t respond to a proposal for the two leaders to meet in person to discuss ideas.
Health officials say there are at least 126 known coronavirus cases in Israel.
Gantz has said all eight of Israel’s political parties should be involved, but Netanyahu has said he won’t include the Joint List, a political grouping that includes Arabic leaders.
“Terror supporters cannot be part of the government, not in normal times or in an emergency,” Netanyahu told Gantz.
“In light of the situation, we would be willing to discuss the establishment of a broad national emergency government that would include representation of the whole political spectrum,” Gantz said.
The Joint List is expected to reject any offer to join a unity government with Netanyahu’s involvement.
Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu Party, suggested that only the Likud and Blue and White parties should form a temporary unity government to handle the coronavirus response.
Netanyahu, who also faces trial next week on charges of corruption, has insisted that he will lead any coalition government since his party owns most seats in the Knesset.
Two prior attempts to form a coalition government, following elections last May and September, failed and led to a third election last week.