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Netanyahu, Gantz re-engage to broker emergency unity gov't in Israel

By
Don Jacobson
An election campaign advertisement for Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the background, is seen on a pedestrian bridge in Ramat Gan, Israel, on February 23. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
An election campaign advertisement for Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the background, is seen on a pedestrian bridge in Ramat Gan, Israel, on February 23. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz resumed negotiations to form an emergency unity government Monday after five fruitless days of talks.

The two leaders went back to the table after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday rejected each of their requests for further mandates to form their own governing coalitions in the Knesset.

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Instead, Rivlin told Gantz he would not renew his current mandate, which expires Monday night, and informed Netanyahu he would not give him one afterwards, raising the possibility that Israel might have to stage yet another national election -- which would be its fourth since last April.

There is optimism, the Jerusalem Post reported, that Rivlin's move could finally nudge Netanyahu and Gantz toward a deal to provide a functioning government amid the coronavirus outbreak that's killed about 100 in Israel, according to Johns Hopkins University.

RELATED Benny Gantz says Netanyahu's party walked away from Israeli coalition

The main sticking point in the talks so far have been who gets political control of judicial appointments and the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank.

Moshe Ya'alon, Gantz's former partner in the more liberal Blue and White Party, urged him Monday to abandon his negotiations with Netanyahu and opt to rebuild the faction.

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Now head of the Telem Party, Ya'alon cited the pending corruption trial against Netanyahu and said allowing him to remain in power as part of an emergency government would further delay the legal proceeding, scheduled for May.

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"It is clear that your naive willingness to join an emergency government has been met with a cynical deceitfulness of a defendant trying to avoid a trial," Ya'alon tweeted.

"If you agree to his terms to consolidate his rule and place himself above the law, you will betray the principles that united us. It is not too late to make amends for the mistake you made in navigating."

RELATED Israeli Knesset speaker resigns under pressure from High Court

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