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Netanyahu offers Deri, Gantz premiership

CM 25/04/2021

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In a dramatic turn of events, with his back to the wall, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made offers to let Shas head Arye Deri and Defense Minister Benny Gantz go first in a rotation as prime minister,In recent days, Netanyahu offered to let Deri serve as prime minister for a year in a rotation agreement, but Deri refused the offer, according to Israel Hayom. Despite Deri’s refusal, Likud officials attempted to convince him to accept the deal, Shas officials said, according to the report.Deri served 22 months in jail after being convicted of taking bribes as interior minister in the 1990s. The MK is facing another run in with the law, as Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced in January that he would likely indict Deri for tax fraud.On Sunday, Blue and White Party officials confirmed a Channel 12 report stating that Netanyahu had made a similar offer to Gantz.
Netanyahu initiated last month’s election to avoid implementing his coalition agreement with Gantz, which required him to hand Gantz the premiership in November. But Netanyahu’s bloc failed to obtain a majority in the new Knesset, leaving him searching for options that could enable him at least to rotate as prime minister.
To that end, the Likud’s law committee met late Sunday to approve a proposal to enable Netanyahu to merge a party into Likud, in case all or part of Yamina or New Hope would join, in return for a rotation as prime minister, with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett or New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar going first.
“We did indeed receive Netanyahu’s proposition but it is entirely irrelevant,” a source close to Gantz in Blue and White said. “We will continue to see more of these last minute frantic attempts by Netanyahu to no avail.”

The offer Gantz received from Netanyahu could help give him leverage in negotiations with the anti-Netanyahu bloc that is working on building a coalition. Gantz is demanding retention of the Defense portfolio, which is also sought by Sa’ar.
Efforts by Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to form such a government became more challenging over the weekend, when Labor and Meretz sent messages demanding senior portfolios for their leaders.
Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev told Army Radio on Sunday morning that his party leader Merav Michaeli deserved one of the top three portfolios in the next government: Foreign Affairs, Defense or Finance. He said she was qualified for all three posts and, he noted, Yamina, which like Labor has seven seats, is demanding the premiership for Bennett.
The Yamina faction met and endorsed on Sunday Bennett’s efforts to form a government and prevent a fifth election and what the party called “deteriorating to chaos.” The faction denied reports that it could break up, with two or three of its MKs joining Likud.
United Torah Judaism slammed Bennett, saying that if he enabled the appointment of anti-haredi Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman as finance minister, “he will be remembered in history as the destroyer of the world of Torah and Jewish tradition.”
“For such a lowly act there is no forgiveness, nor can there be forever,” UTJ said.  Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich sent Bennett a letter accusing him of not doing enough to form a Netanyahu-led government and attacking his intention to become prime minister with seven mandates.
“It would destroy democracy and undermine its most fundamental rationale,” Smotrich said.
Smotrich angered the Likud on Saturday night when he criticized Netanyahu after a barrage of rockets slammed into Israel from the Gaza Strip and riots continued in Jerusalem.
“Tell me, after countless terror attacks and lynchings from the ‘Arab enemy’ in the last few days and after a barrage of [rockets] from Gaza at the communities in the South, Netanyahu wants us to ‘calm down on both sides?’” he tweeted alongside a video of violence in Jerusalem, adding “Maybe it’s time to replace him.”
Coalition chairman Miki Zohar (Likud) shot back on social media, calling the Religious Zionist Party leader “Ungrateful.”
“You only passed the [electoral] threshold because the Likud gave you three seats [in the election],” Zohar charged. “A little humility wouldn’t hurt.”
Smotrich soon fired back, writing that “if anyone here who says they ‘gave me’ three seats actually did so, I’d have 15 seats today.”
Netanyahu “did me no favors,” he wrote, adding that “throughout, I emphasized that I am not personally committed to [Netanyahu], but to the values of the Right and religious Zionism.”
Aaron Reich contributed to this report

Source: Jerusalem Post

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