Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman joined the Joint (Arab) List and Labor-Gesher-Meretz parties in endorsing Gantz for Prime Minister, leaving Gantz with 61 of 120 recommendations, compared to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 58 endorsements.
Gantz vowed to form a coalition “within days”. In an address from the President’s residence today, he said: “I give you my word: I will do everything to establish within days — as few as I can — a national government, one that is as patriotic and as broad as possible”.
He pledged to form a government that would represent all of Israel, protecting “the interests of the residents of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Arab citizens of Israel, of the residents of the periphery and those in the centre”.
He added: “A government that I’ll lead will help Israeli society recover from the coronavirus, as well as the virus of schism and hatred”.
Gantz also appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly condemned the Blue and White leader over his his willingness to cooperate with the majority-Arab Joint List party.
He said: “I’ve always wanted [a] unity [government], unity that comes not at the expense of Israeli democratic and state values”.
The mandate came three hours after Rivlin hosted the Blue and White leader along with Netanyahu for a three-way summit Sunday evening in an effort to encourage the two men to form an emergency unity government amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Netanyahu and Gantz released a joint statement saying that they had both “thanked the president of the state for inviting them to the joint meeting” and that “the two agreed that negotiating teams would meet soon”.
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu went public with a pair of alternative offers for a unity government with Gantz, urging the de facto opposition chairman to choose either to serve under him in a six-month emergency government or replace him after two years as part of a four-year rotational coalition.
The opening of Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases has been delayed by more than two months due to new restrictions on Israel’s courts as part of emergency measures to combat the coronavirus, the Jerusalem District Court announced on Sunday.