Netanyahu gathers his right-wing bloc as unity talks falter
Yamina leader says the right-wing bloc is 'hardy like concrete' after PM meets with his allies at the same time his lawyers fend off allegations of corruption at a pre-indictment hearing; Likud also accuses Blue and White co-founder Yair Lapid of scuppering unity talks
The meeting came after Blue and White leader Benny Gantz backed out of planned talks to form a national unity government. The centrist faction, headed by the former army chief, on Tuesday said conditions were not ripe yet to hold effective negotiations between the parties and their leaders.
During the meeting on Wednesday, the Likud repeated a previous claim that Gantz's political partner Yair Lapid was scuppering unity talks for his own purposes.
"The ministers had been made aware that the Blue and White negotiating team canceled the meeting because Lapid overpowered Gantz during the holiday, intending to drag the country into another election," said a Likud source.
"Lapid does not want a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz but only between Gantz and himself.”
The leaders of the parties apparently have not decided whether Netanyahu should return the mandate to form the government back to President Reuven Rivlin.
Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked said following the meeting the right-wing bloc remains "hardy like concrete," while Education Minister Rafi Peretz said the right is “marching together.”
Blue and White, meanwhile placed the blame for the cancellation of unity talks firmly on Netanyahu’s party. "This is not a negotiation, it is a deaf discourse and there is no point in continuing as long as the conditions stay the same."
"Why should we help him take the hearing off the headlines?" said one Blue and White official, referring to Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearings which kicked-off on Wednesday morning - the time when the planned unity talks were supposed to take place.