Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed on Monday in a meeting with Likud-supporting local leaders that there are unity government talks still in progress with main rivals Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu, a claim later denied by both parties.
"We still have an obligation to form a unity government," said Netanyahu. "The negotiations didn't stop, they are still in progress."
The prime minister also addressed his legal situation following his indictment last Thursday in three corruption cases.
"We cannot allow witness tempering using intimidation, this is not a democracy," said the incumbent. "We need to fight the corruption, no one is above the law – not the prime minister, not the president, not the police and not the state attorney's office."
Blue and White officials denied Netanyahu's claims on Monday and said that there are no direct unity government negotiation talks with Netanyahu or his people.
"Blue and White continue to make significant efforts in order to form a broad, liberal unity government and prevent expensive and unnecessary elections," said the officials. "According to the suggested unity government outline, Gantz will serve as prime minister for the first two years, and afterward, if acquitted, Netanyahu will be able to step back into office.
There is only one factor pushing for elections due to his legal interests – Benjamin Netanyahu. There are negotiations with other factions to form a government led by Benny Gantz."
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman has also denied Netanyahu's claims and asked for President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to sit down with the major party leaders and work out a solution that will prevent a "needless third election" in less than a year.
"The leaders of the major party have already exhausted all efforts (to form a unity government) and I doubt that Knesset has a chance to prevent new elections," said Liberman. "I call the president of the state and the Knesset speaker to summon the leaders of all parties and sit with them until white smoke comes out. I expect them to put pressure on the party leaders."
First published: 19:30 , 11.25.19