Tel Aviv, Mar 10 : Israel’s Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz has begun talks with a smaller party on Tuesday in an effort to break the political deadlock after last week's elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief rival said he agreed with a smaller party to work together to form a new government following national elections last week.
The elections were the third in a year, but the end result did not throw up a clear cut winner, making a fourth round of elections in the near future a real possibility. Benny Gantz's move is being seen as a major set back for Netanyahu as he struggles to hold on to power before his upcoming trial on corruption charges. Netanyahu has denied all the charges. Gantz said he had a good meeting with the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman and said "We discussed questions of fundamental principle and determined that we will work together to assemble a government that will pull Israel out of the political deadlock and avert a fourth round of elections,".
In last week's election, Israel's third in less than a year, Netanyahu's Likud party emerged as the largest party and along with the smaller religious and nationalist allies could muster 58 seats, three short of the required majority of 61 needed to form the government in the 120 member Knesset. Gantz' Blue and White party has the most number of seats among the opposition parties. Analysts say that beyond their animosity towards Netanyahu there is nothing much to unite these parties. For example Lieberman has in the past called the Arab political leaders, who together make up the Arab-led Joint List, as "terrorist" sympathisers. Though Gantz's announcement with Lieberman marks the first step towards unifying antiNetanyahu forces,yet it remains unclear whether they can actually reach a final agreement, much less a deal with Arab politicians. Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, will have to decide by next week who to choose as the prime minister-designate. The president typically chooses the candidate he deems has the best chance of forming a governing coalition. (UNI)