Netanyahu and Gantz to meet on Wednesday

PM calls Blue and White chair, currently in London, in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations before returning the mandate.

Hezki Baruch ,

Rivlin with Gantz and Netanyahu
Rivlin with Gantz and Netanyahu
Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday phoned MK Benny Gantz, who is in London, so as to bring about a breakthrough in negotiations for a unity government before returning the mandate to the president.

Netanyahu suggested that the two meet immediately upon Gantz's return to Israel on Wednesday, and the prime minister even proposed to come to Gantz's house to meet with him.

The two agreed that the coalition negotiating teams would meet Wednesday morning, while Prime Minister Netanyahu would meet with Gantz apparently toward evening. At the end of their conversation, the two wished each other and all the citizens of Israel a happy new year.

Yisrael Beytenu Chair MK Avigdor Liberman called on Gantz and Netanyahu to set aside their personal interests. ''I urge you, take responsibility, put your ego and personal interests aside and establish a government that will begin addressing the problems and challenges we face. You can then open the door for other parties to join, based on the fundamental lines of the government you establish. This is what the public hopes for and expects.''

Earlier Sunday, Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams met, but no progress was made in negotiations.

A Likud official blamed Yair Lapid for the failure to make progress. "Yair Lapid is hampering a unity government because he does not want a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz, he wants a rotation between himself and Gantz - and for that he is ready to drag the state into elections."

On the other hand, Blue and White claimed in a statement that "Likud insists on sticking to the bloc of 55 and spewing slogans with the sole purpose of accumulating points ahead of the additional elections to which Netanyahu is bringing Israel."

Blue and White added, "The State of Israel needs a broad, stable and liberal unity government led by Benny Gantz - we will continue to work solely for this purpose."