Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday evening at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem with Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, who holds the mandate to form the government.
The meeting, which is considered crucial, began only 25 and a half hours before the expiry of the mandate given by the President to Gantz to form the government.
It concluded around 11:30 p.m. Israel time after approximately one hour, without a breakthrough.
Gantz said at the conclusion of the meeting with Netanyahu: "At the start of the meeting today, I said once again, as I have said since entering the political field, that Israel needs a broad and liberal unity government composed primarily of the two major political parties, led by Blue and White which won the elections.”
“A unity government which, alongside security and economic concerns, will work to end the rifting that has spread in Israeli society in recent years. A government whose founding lines will be set on the basis of major parties and therefore cannot be built on the basis of one or another sectoral bloc.”
“Third elections are a bad thing, but basic principles and values cannot be dispensed with. We will continue to make every effort and turn every stone to try to reach understandings and form a government even in the remaining time period, in order to prevent costly and unnecessary elections that are contrary to the will of the citizens of Israel.”
Netanyahu said following the conclusion of the meeting: "This is the last moment of a historic decision that will affect the security of the state and its future. Sadly, today I realized at the meeting with Gantz that he is rejecting the president's outline and ignoring the will of most of the people that we set up a broad national unity government together."
Netanyahu added: "Gantz intends to form a minority government that relies on the abstention of the Joint Arab List. The Prime Minister will make further efforts tomorrow with Avigdor Liberman to establish a national unity government with the aim of preventing unnecessary elections or a minority government that is dangerous for the State of Israel."
Shortly before the meeting began, Netanyahu posted a video in which he called on Gantz and Avigdor Liberman to form a broad unity government that would keep Israel safe and annex the Jordan Valley.
"The US administration’s historic decision yesterday gives us a one-time opportunity to determine the eastern border of the State of Israel and annex the Jordan Valley," Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister added, "It is impossible to do this in a minority government that relies on Ahmed Tibi and Ayman Odeh."
"Therefore, I urge Benny Gantz to come with me and Avigdor Liberman to form a unity government whose first issue, on the first day of the new government, is the annexation of the Jordan Valley. The people and history will not forgive anyone who misses this opportunity," Netanyahu concluded.
Blue and White officials said after the video was released, "The meeting has not yet begun and Netanyahu is already putting out a video about what he is going to talk to Gantz."
As part of the meeting, the two are expected to discuss, according to sources close to the negotiations, the possibility of forming a unity government according to the parameters set in the president's outline, with some changes.
According to the same sources, real negotiations have been held between the sides over the past 24 hours for the first time since the mandate was given to Gantz, but no breakthrough has been reached to this point.
At midnight on Wednesday, the mandate given by President Reuven Rivlin to MK Benny Gantz to form a government will expire. After the mandate expires, the state will enter a 21-day period during which a Knesset member who collects 61 signatures will be given by the President a two-week window to form a government. If, during the 21 days, no member of the Knesset collects the required number of signatures, the State of Israel will go to another election.