Blue & White chairman Benny Gantz vowed on Thursday to form a broad unity government with him as prime minister after his party edged out incumbent leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
“Blue & White with me at the head has won the elections and we are the biggest party [in parliament],” Gantz told reporters on Thursday after Netanyahu called for the rivals to join together in a unity government. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White is two seats ahead of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, according to almost complete results published by Israeli media. “According to the election commission we have received 33 seats and Netanyahu did not achieve the bloc that he hoped to achieve and for which he actually dragged us into a second election.” Gantz said he will work to establish a “broad liberal unity government headed by myself. A government that will bring the wishes of the public to the people. We’ll bring about a change in priorities and we will cure Israeli society.” “We will keep to our principles,” he continued. “There will be no shortcuts. The government formed by me must be effective and able to effectively address issues and have true governance.” Netanyahu responded shortly after Gantz’s address, saying he was disappointed the Blue & White leader had yet to respond to his offer to meet. “I was surprised and disappointed that right now Benny Gantz still refuses to answer my call to meet,” Israel’s longest-serving leader griped, adding, “This is what the public expects from us.” While Gantz remained silent on Netanyahu during his address Thursday afternoon, Yair Lapid reiterated their party’s call for ‘national liberal government’ with Liberman and Likud, but “without Netanyahu.” Echoing some of Liberman’s main agenda, he also called for a secular government that provides civil marriage, public transport on the Sabbath and amending election laws to avoid the possibility of going to a contest every few months, excoriating Netanyahu for putting his political interests ahead of the country.