Netanyahu's Latest Call for Unity Government Is Quickly Rejected

Yaacov Benmeleh

(Bloomberg) -- Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival turned down the Israeli prime minister’s renewed call to set aside political differences and join a national unity government

Netanyahu has until late next week to form a ruling coalition or risk the country’s president handing the mandate to former military chief Benny Gantz. Short of a majority in parliament, the premier’s efforts to coax Gantz’s Blue and White bloc, the largest in the legislature, into a power-sharing agreement have so far failed.

“All of Israel’s citizens look around and see how the Middle East is changing for the worse in front of our eyes,” Netanyahu said Thursday in a tweet. “Those who need to know, know that the security challenges are growing, and they are not waiting for us.”

The prime minister didn’t specify the threats facing Israel. But his statement follows the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria as he seeks to end America’s presence in long-running Middle Eastern conflicts.

The U-turn has boosted Israel’s main regional foe, Iran, which is a key supporter of the government in Damascus, and stoked speculation in Israel over the future reliability of the country’s superpower patron.

Gantz quickly rejected Netanyahu’s offer.

“I received a proposal today that one must refuse,’’ Gantz said in a tweet. “We will wait for the President’s mandate and begin serious negotiations for the establishment of a liberal unity government that will lead to change and restore hope to the citizens of Israel.”

--With assistance from Ivan Levingston.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yaacov Benmeleh in Tel Aviv at ybenmeleh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Paul Abelsky

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.