Gantz rejects unity offer from Netanyahu

Gantz rejects unity offer from Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Thursday and offered him a new framework on matters of religion and state and other issues that could help bring about the formation of a national-unity government, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Netanyahu said there should be a wide unity government including Blue and White and parties that are the Likud’s right-wing and religious allies. As part of the new framework, United Torah Judaism and Shas would officially agree to sit with their nemesis, Blue and White’s No. 2, Yair Lapid.

But Blue and White leader Benny Gantz rejected Netanyahu’s invitation and declined to meet with him to discuss it.

“I got an offer that I can’t not refuse,” Gantz tweeted. “We will wait until we receive the mandate from the president, and then we will start serious negotiations to form a liberal unity government that will bring about change and restore hope to the citizens of Israel.”

An official statement by Blue and White said “Netanyahu’s recent behavior unfortunately indicates that what he is seeking is not unity but immunity.”

The party welcomed Netanyahu’s efforts to move forward on matters of religion and state, but said other parts of the plan were unacceptable.

“He remains unprepared to acknowledge that the majority of Israeli citizens elected a liberal unity government, without extremists,” Blue and White said. “It is for this reason that Blue and White is the largest Knesset faction. Not unintentionally, the proposal brought by the outgoing prime minister fails to address the most important issue: maintaining moral integrity and rule of law. In recent weeks, Netanyahu has continued to oppose and to demonstrate disrespect toward law enforcement, the press and state agencies.”