Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz Elad Malka

Significant progress was made in the contacts towards the establishment of a national emergency government during Monday night’s meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz.

The two parties said in a joint statement following the meeting that they agreed to meet again in the morning in the presence of their negotiating teams.

During the meeting, the mandate that had been given to Gantz from President Reuven Rivlin to form a government expired at midnight.

However, Netanyahu and Blue and Gantz jointly submitted a request to Rivlin to extend the mandate.

The President’s Residence then confirmed that Rivlin received a request before midnight from Gantz to extend the period of time allocated to him to form a government.

The request was brought to Rivlin as required, with the support of both sides and on the understanding that they are very close to reaching an agreement between them. According to the request, the period of time allocated for forming a government will be extended so that its expiry date will be on Wednesday April 16 at midnight.

Gantz and Netanyahu met after Gantz delivered a public statement in which he urged the Prime Minister to work toward for the establishment of a unity government.

"After the last elections, a new emergency was created, and we faced two options: to drag Israel into a fourth election or to set up a national emergency government. I chose to follow a path to form a government while taking personal and political risks. I didn't want Blue and White to fall apart, but I didn't flinch when my colleagues did and moved forward."

"The emergency has forced us all to recalculate. Netanyahu realized he needed my help in dealing with the crisis. We are in a tough war, the number of dead is increasing and reaching huge proportions. At this hour, no one will preach to me about politics and rebuke me for choosing the good of our citizens," said Gantz.

Meanwhile on Monday night, officials in the Yamina party blasted Netanyahu in the wake of the meeting with Gantz.

“Netanyahu is giving up on everything that matters to the right, and on the 'natural' partners as he calls us. He will remain with Itzik Shmuli and Amir Peretz, a committee for the cloning of leftist judges, and there will be no sovereignty as everyone knows. As far as he’s concerned, it’s possible to take advantage of the right and then toss it aside. The tossing aside will be reciprocal,” said the officials.

They also criticized Netanyahu's decision to relinquish the control of the right over the Justice and Defense Ministries.

"Unfortunately, it turns out that Netanyahu is selling the justice system and the issue of sovereignty to the left. If so, the era of the right-wing bloc is over.”

"It is a knife in the back of religious Zionism which went with him. It is unbelievable that with 59 seats he gave up everything to Gantz who has 17 seats," the party charged.