Majority in Blue and White for compromise

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Rivlin tasked Gantz with forming a government on Wednesday night. Thursday was the first of 28 days in which he has the exclusive right to build a coalition.
By Gil Hoffman –  The  Jerusalem Post

Support is growing within Blue and White to accept a compromise proposal that would initially enable Benjamin Netanyahu to remain prime minister, a source close to party leader Benny Gantz said Thursday night.

President Reuven Rivlin’s plan calls for Netanyahu to be prime minister first and then take an extended break while facing corruption charges. According to the plan, Gantz would take Netanyahu’s place as prime minister after initially serving as vice prime minister.

Rivlin tasked Gantz with forming a government on Wednesday night. Thursday was the first of 28 days in which the Blue and White leader has the exclusive right to build a coalition.

In order to accept Rivlin’s proposal, Gantz would have to return the mandate. Sources in the party claimed that a majority of Blue and White’s 33 MKs are at least in favor of using Rivlin’s plan as a basis for negotiations with Likud.

Coalition talks will begin Sunday with Likud and Yisrael Beytenu and continue on Tuesday with Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union. Gantz is expected to meet personally soon with Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.

He will meet on Monday with Labor-Gesher heads Amir Peretz and Orly Levy-Abecassis, who will be invited to enter the coalition, and Tuesday with Joint List head Ayman Odeh, who will not.

Sources in Blue and White said there is far from a majority in the faction that supports forming a narrow government backed from the outside by the Joint List in a parliamentary safety net. The sources said Gantz himself opposes the idea, even if it ends up being the only government Gantz could form in which he serves as prime minister from day one.

Channel 12 reported that one possibility will be to give Likud a choice between Netanyahu going first as prime minister and Netanyahu taking his entire bloc of 55 right-wing and Orthodox MKs into the coalition. The report said Likud would be told that it could only keep one of those two demands.

Netanyahu told the bloc’s MKs at his 70th birthday party on Thursday at the Prime Minister’s Office that it is important that they remain together.

Gantz will receive unofficial coronation as the leader of the Center-Left bloc on November 2, when he will be the keynote speaker at the annual memorial ceremony for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995.

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