Blue & White and Likud on Wednesday accused each other of stalling the negotiations to form a unity government and backing out of agreements.
Blue &White Chairman Benny Gantz he remains committed to forming a “national emergency government” after calling off coalition talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party this week, but there’s a limit to how much he’ll compromise to do so.
“We informed them that we want a national emergency government, but not at any cost,” he said. “Joining forces in a crisis is important, but in times like these, protecting democracy and the rule of law for the future of Israel is critical.”
Gantz put the blame for the stalled talks on Netanyahu, saying the sides had nearly reached a coalition agreement when Likud sought to change an understanding reached on judicial appointments, who are going to play a crucial role in the prime minister's upcoming criminal trial.
Likud, however, accused the former IDF chief's party of being the ones who backed out of previously agreed upon principals.
"From the first moment, it was agreed that the unity government would be established on the basis of two clear principles - joint decision-making on all issues and advancement of the West Bank annexation process," said Netanyahu's party in a statement.
"Unfortunately, at the last moment, it is Blue & White that had backed out of these agreements, which are a necessary basis for any equitable government. Once Blue & White return to the agreed principals, everything could be finalized and a unity government would be established. "
On Monday, having previously indicated a deal on an emergency unity government was done, Blue & White said it was breaking off coalition talks with Likud over the latter’s efforts to walk back on an agreement regarding judicial appointments who were set to be occupied by Gantz's party members.
“After reaching understandings on all issues, the Likud party asked to re-open discussions regarding the committee to appoint judges," said Blue & White in a statement on Monday. "In light of this, negotiations have been halted. We will not allow any change in the functioning of the judiciary nor damage to democracy.”
The announcement came soon after reports said the parties had reached understandings on the most problematic issues, including the potential annexation of parts of the West Bank under the U.S. peace proposal and power over the justice system.
The earlier reports indicated Benny Gantz’s party had given way on its demands vis-a-vis annexation, while Likud was said to have ceded ground on judicial issues.