Benny Gantz (left) and Binyamin Netanyahu are shown on September 18, the second of three election days in less than a year, as they cast their votes. (Emmanuel Dunand, Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Gantz: Coalition with Netanyahu Nearly Clinched

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz reportedly told close confidants that he was “on the brink” of clinching a deal to form a so-called unity government with Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. It comes after Gantz failed to create a ruling coalition during the 28-day period in which he held the official mandate to do so. President Reuven Rivlin has transferred that mandate to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, meaning that any lawmaker over the next three weeks can work to obtain the necessary backing of at least 61 members in the 120-seat legislature to form a government. While many agree that Gantz lost much of his leverage over Netanyahu when his wider centrist political union disintegrated over disagreements about whether to join forces with an incumbent under indictment, the Blue and White leader continues to have one trump card up his sleeve: the threat of pressing forward with legislation that would bar Netanyahu from continuing in his current capacity due to the criminal charges against him. In this respect, one of the major sticking points between the sides reportedly involves a demand by the Likud to insulate Netanyahu from any Supreme Court ruling that would bar him from serving in his post during the prospective unity government’s tenure. Another significant issue involves the appointment of judges, a process over which the Likud reportedly is seeking veto power. If no deal of any kind is reached by early next month, Israel will hold a fourth consecutive snap election on or about August 4.

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