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Israel's Netanyahu calls on rival Gantz to form unity government | News



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded a broad coalition with his main rival after failing to win parliamentary majority.

President Reuven Rivlin, tasked with approving a new government, welcomed Netanyahu's overtraining.

"I congratulate you, Mr. Prime Minister, for participating in this call. This is an important conversation," Rivlin said in a speech by Netanyahu and his key challenger Benny Gantz.

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu invited Gantz to leave with him in a broad unity coalition after saying there was no chance he could form a right-wing government after Israel's stalemate election.

With more than 97 percent of the vote counting, the central blue-and-white party led by Gantz has 33 seats, while Netanyahu's Likud party stands behind by 31

.

In a TV appearance, Netanyahu said he had requested the establishment of a right-wing government but the election results showed that it will not be

"The people did not decide completely between the two blocks, "Netanyahu said of his and Gantz's parties.

" Now I ask you, Benny Gantz, we must create a broad unity government today. The people expect us to be responsible, to cooperate, and that's why I urge you Benny, "he added.

" Let's meet today, anytime, to light this move. "

There was no immediate response from Gantz or his party spokesman. However, his office said he was expected to give a speech at 2 pm on Thursday .

On Wednesday, Gantz said he hoped for a "good, desirable unity government. "But he has also ruled out forming one with a Netanyahu-led Likud, citing blaming charges against the prime minister, who denies any wrongdoing.

" Political suicide "

Akiva Eldar, a columnist for Al-Monitor, said that the surprise message was another "spin" made by Netanyahu.

"The evidence is in yesterday's collection of Likud and the Orthodox and ultra-rights to get from them a clear commitment that they are together and they will not betray or stab him in the back, "Eldar told Al Jazeera.

" T his is after he made all members of the former Likud faction in the upcoming Knesset sign the same type of commitment, "he said.

" And now, what he is doing is trying to throw the hot potato – so to speak – to Gantz's court and be the first to blame Gantz for not agreeing with unity. "

Eldar noted that now the" red line "is Netanyahu's immunity. If he is not prime minister, they may agree on a rotation to switch – but it will also mean" political suicide "for Netanyahu while he is not the prime minister.

"This means that Netanyahu can be prosecuted because a minister does not have immunity," Eldar noted. "The game's name saves Netanyahu from prison – everything else does not work."

According to the Election Committee, 69.4 percent of the electoral voters vote on Tuesday in Israel's second general election this year after a lack of a clear mandate in the polls in April.

The Arab Joint List, an alliance of four smaller parties representing Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, has become the third largest bloc with 12 places.

Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to win nine

In remarks made a day earlier, Netanyahu said he would seek a to establish a new "Zionist" government that excludes Arab parties.

During his campaign, Netanyahu pledged to annex illegal settlements on the occupied West Bank, and last week promised to "apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea immediately" if he won the election.

About 4.8 million Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation on the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gantz, who had previously made similar promises, had sought peace with the Palestinians and has been largely silent on the US-sponsored so-called Middle East peace plan – whose details are expected to be rolled out following the formation of the Israeli government.

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