Feb. 16 (UPI) — Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel’s Blue and White party, said Sunday that he will seek to form a government without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor predominately Arab parties in Parliament after the upcoming election.
Gantz said he expects his party to win the most seats on the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, in the March 2 election and said he would form a unity government with Netanyahu’s Likud party only if the prime minister, who has been indicted on bribery and other charges, resigns.
“Netanyahu has concluded his historic role from a political point of view. There is no government for the Likud with Netanyahu and without Bibi there is no unity,” said Gantz. “He is going to go to trial. Imagine that while he is preparing for trial with a battery of lawyers on fatal issues from his personal point of view, the Chief of Staff needs to hold a very urgent nighttime discussion on security issues.”
He also repeated his vow form a “Jewish majority government” and not to sit with predominately Arab parties saying he will not need the support of the Joint List party to form a government.
“I will not sit with the Joint List and I do not need their support,” he said. “I heard [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman saying this morning that he will sit with Labor and Meretz and he will sit with us. We have no agreements with Liberman. We had great negotiations with him before the last Knesset dissolved, we reached unprecedented achievements in understandings on issues of religion and state.”
Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh criticized Gantz’s pledge to exclude the Arab parties from the government.
“There is one thing that needs to leave politics quicker than Netanyahu and that is the racist phrase ‘Jewish majority,'” Odeh said. “If there won’t be a majority of citizens, there won’t be a majority.”
Netanyahu said Gantz was lying about not needing the support of Arab parties to form a majority government.
“Anyone thinking of voting Blue and White needs to know that he is voting for a government which will be dependent on the Joint List,” he said. “Only a vote for Likud will bring about a strong, right-wing government and stop a dangerous government [from being formed], preventing a fourth round of elections.”