Report: Blue and White’s Ya’alon to Back Minority Gov’t in Israel
Israeli parliamentarian Moshe Ya’alon, who heads the hawkish Telem faction in the centrist Blue and White political alliance, reportedly will back a minority government under Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, with outside support from the Arab-majority Joint List. Ya’alon, who is No. 3 on the Blue and White list, was previously a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, served as defense minister in Netanyahu’s cabinet, and before that as Israel’s military chief of staff. Israeli media reports that Ya’alon, who previously opposed the idea of a minority government backed by the Joint List, has recently changed his mind, on condition that Balad, the Palestinian-nationalist faction within the Joint List, be excluded. It is thought to be unlikely that Balad’s representatives would back such a government in any case. It is not clear if other right-wing members of Blue and White, such as MKs Yoaz Hendel and Tzvi Hauser, who formerly worked as aides for Netanyahu, would support such a political constellation. They have, however, denied reports that they are considering leaving the party to join a Netanyahu-led government. In the aftermath of the March 2 election, Netanyahu is thought to have the support of 58 members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to form a right-wing government. This is three Knesset members short of the 61-seat majority needed to form a government. Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party and another former Netanyahu ally, says he will not back Netanyahu now, and he is expected to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz be tasked with forming the new coalition. If he does, this could also give Blue and White control of the powerful Knesset speaker position, which would make it easier to pass legislation barring a Knesset member who is under indictment from forming a new government. This would effectively disqualify Netanyahu from the premiership, a move that some right-wingers are calling a “coup” but that centrists and leftists say is fundamental to good governance. When then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced his own legal troubles, Netanyahu supported similar legislation.