By: Arye Green
Member of Knesset (MK) Yair Lapid, Blue and White’s No. 2, announced on Monday that he will give up his rotation agreement with MK Benny Gantz, making Gantz the party’s candidate for prime minister if a third election is held.
Gantz and Lapid ran as joint candidates for prime minister in the April and September elections, with an agreement that each would serve as premier for two years.
However, they have decided to terminate that agreement ahead of the likely upcoming elections and announced the decision at a faction meeting two days before the deadline for forming a coalition. After this deadline passes without the formation of a government, a third round of elections will certainly take place.
Lapid had already agreed to give up the rotation agreement if a unity government between Blue and White and Likud was formed. Lapid has now given up his rotation agreement completely, regardless of political circumstances.
Lapid said that he still hopes the elections will not take place, but if they do, he supports Gantz as party leader.
“If there are elections, we’ve decided that this time there won’t be a rotation agreement. We will go together, all of us, a large and united Blue and White behind Benny Gantz, our candidate for prime minister,” he said.
“It wasn’t a hard decision. I sat down with the kids on Friday night and told them I promised to do what’s good for the country and it’s good for the country,” he added.
Lapid explained that in his view, Blue and White has an important historic role to play, “to liberate the country from corruption, from blackmail and from extremists. Freeing the country from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
Gantz called on Netanyahu to prevent the elections, saying they “will find a way” to prevail in coalition talks if Netanyahu only gives up his immunity as an MK.
“I urge you to pledge in your voice that you will not ask for immunity. The citizens of Israel deserve to know, before you drag them into another election campaign, what your intentions really are. I urge you to do so today so that we can negotiate directly, without the immunity bloc, on establishing a unity government. We’ll find the way. We will prevent elections from the Israeli people, stop the politicians’ constant self-involvement and start working for the citizens of Israel once again,” he said.
Netanyahu declined Gantz’s offer, calling it a “clear trick which is intended to draw attention away from the fact that you are refusing to establish a broad national unity government that will establish a defense alliance with the United States and annex large parts of Judea and Samaria.”
“Because Lapid and Gantz persist in their refusal and are preoccupied only with empty spins, there is only one option to prevent unnecessary elections: I urge Avigdor Liberman to enter into accelerated negotiations in the 48 hours remaining, and form a strong national government for Israel,” Netanyahu added.