Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Gantz (R)
Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Gantz (R) Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Senior figures in the Likud party have told Israel Hayom that they will act to "thwart a Likud government if [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz is first in a rotation deal if this option comes up, if the bloc does not win 61 Knesset seats."

The sources discussed a scenario in which the Likud, since its bloc did not receive 61 Knesset seats, would be forced into a situation in which the only way to prevent sixth elections and a center-left government would be to join the center-left bloc in forming a government. In such a situation, the option may come up of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offering Gantz to be first in a rotation for the position of prime minister.

According to the sources, there are two central reasons why more than a few Likud members are expected to try to thwart such a plan.

"If Netanyahu allows Gantz to be first in a rotation, that will destroy the pact between the Likud and the haredim, and essentially turn Gantz into a candidate who the haredim can work with in the future as well, without the Likud. The ones who will be hurt most by this are those in the Likud who wish to claim its leadership after Netanyahu's time. They are concerned that the pact with the haredim will not be preserved with the Likud in the future," the sources said.

Another reason the sources mentioned is the distribution of portfolios and the reforms in the judicial system: After over a year during which the Likud was not in power, the sources say they are not willing to sacrifice half of the government's portfolios for the sake of a partnership with Gantz.

There are also many MKs who are not willing to return to power only in order to sit once again in a government in which they cannot advance reforms in the judicial system.

"The goal of everyone who left the primaries disappointed and felt that Netanyahu hurt him is a narrow 61-MK government, in which Netanyahu needs every single person and every MK in the Likud has power with the Likud chairman," they concluded.