Two Blue & White MKs have apparently voiced their opposition to a possibility of forming a minority center-left government backed by the Joint List alliance of Israel's Arab parties.
Blue & White and its center-left bloc won 55 Knesset seats in the March 2 election, coming second to Likud's rightist-religious bloc. The latter bloc only has 58 Knesset seats, and is three short of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset that it needs to form a government.
Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser are both members of Moshe Ya'alon's Telem's party that makes up Blue & White along with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid and Benny Gantz's The Israel Resilience Party. Ya'alon met with the two MKs on Sunday in an attempt to persuade them to back the minority government but apparently to no avail.
According to reports, the conversation turned heated and yelling could be heard from the other side of the door. A Blue & White source said that Hauser and Hendel were “serving Netanyahu and thwarting a Gantz[-led] government.”
Sources in the Blue & White said the party has a two-step plan in an effort to avoid the fourth elections, which consists of an initial phase of forming a minority coalition with Labor-Gesher-Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu, with outside support by Joint List and a second phase that assumes once a minority government is formed, members of various right-wing parties would be willing to join the coalition.
On Sunday evening, a group of teenagers from a pre-military academy protested outside Hendel’s home, calling on him to resist internal pressure to form a Joint List-backed government.
The protesters were apparently from Mechinat Lachish, a coeducational, pluralistic program for post-high school Israelis, run by the husband of Sarah Beck from the right-wing Yamina party.
Footage from the demonstration shows Hendel going outside to greet the protesters, serving them tea and urging them to pressure other lawmakers to push for a Blue & White-Likud unity government.
“Unity is an existential need,” Hendel tweeted in response to a post about the protests.
Similar protests are reportedly planned outside the homes of Hauser himself, a fellow Blue & White MK Hili Tropper and Gesher MK Orly Levi. The protests are set to be held under the banner: "Don’t give the keys to the state to terrorist supporters."
Nevertheless, Gantz apparently ordered his coalition negotiators to prepare for talks with members of the Joint List in an effort to form a minority government.
The Joint List members, on the other hand, are reportedly fuming at Gantz over the centrist party’s efforts to conceal the negotiations with the predominantly Arab faction. "Either we enter negotiations with Gantz through the front door or we don’t enter at all,” said one Joint List MK.
“They must talk to us in the same manner in which they talk to other parties. There will not be deals inked in dark rooms,” the official added, saying the party will not be “a punching bag” for Blue & White MKs when it's politically beneficial for them.
In the meantime, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is expected to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz be tasked with forming the government, after the former IDF chief accepted Liberman's conditions for joining a center-left coalition.
With Liberman’s backing, Gantz could receive more recommendations than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, complicating Rivlin’s choice of whom to task with forming a government.
Liberman and Gantz are scheduled to meet in the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan on Monday to further discuss coordination between their parties.