Friday, April 16, 2021

Netanyahu allies admit negotiating with Arab party

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Ronen Zvulun / EPA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Political allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won Tuesday’s legislative without a majority, admitted to negotiating with the United Arab List to achieve the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.

With 90% of the votes counted, the Arabic List by Mansour Abbas he will have to elect 5 deputies – that added to those of the party of Netanyahu, the Likud, and his allies, would allow to form a majority in the parliament (Knesset) – the outgoing prime minister said today “not to exclude anyone” in the negotiations for formation of Government.

“These times demand a stable government for the State of Israel. We cannot, under any circumstances, drag the State of Israel into new elections, ”said Netanyahu to his supporters.

Tuesday’s elections were the fourth in Israel in just two years. Prior to the elections, Netanyahu had ruled out talks with Abbas.

Abbas, who was one of the surprises of the elections, said today for his part “not to be in anyone’s pocket” when it comes to supporting a future government – not closing the door on supporting an anti-Netanyahu coalition.

The opening of the Likud leader to the Arab party was later underlined by one of Netanyahu’s main political allies, David Bitan. “We could get along with the United Arab List,” said Bitan, in an interview with Kan public radio.

Another of Netanyahu’s closest allies, the minister Tzachi Hanegbi, also praised Abbas, and admitted to negotiating his support for a new Netanyahu government, in an interview on Channel 13.

The Arab leader, said Hanegbi, is a “moderate” and would be an “injustice to Israeli society” if he did not enter the Knesset. Comments were, however, poorly received by orthodox and far-right religious parties that support a government from Likud.

The most recent projections indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud (right) is expected to get 30 seats in the Knesset, reaching 59 with the support of his allies and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina, who would still have to negotiate.

On Tuesday, Bennett said he will “do only what is good for the State of Israel ”, without elaborating.

Second is the centrist formation Yesh Atid, opposition leader Yair Lapid, with 19 deputies, followed by Shas (Sephardic ultra-Orthodox) with 9 seats, the Blue and White coalition (centrist of former Defense Minister Benny Gantz) with 8.

United Torah Judaism (ultra-Orthodox), Yamina (extreme right), Yisrael Beiteinu (secular right) and Labor all obtained seven deputies, according to projections.

Yair Lapid he has also said to hold discussions “with the leaders of the anti-Netanyahu bloc”.

After the final results were announced on Friday, the president, Reuven Rivlin, will begin a round of contacts with all parties, before inviting one of them to form a government.

Until then, the provisional government led by Netanyahu remains in office.

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