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Gallant reportedly pursuing unity government, seeks to replace Ben Gvir and Smotrich

Poll shows Israelis want a unity government and are not satisfied with coalition performance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attend a vote on the Reasonableness Standard Bill at the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is reportedly trying to form a unity government with opposition leaders Benny Gantz of the National Unity party and Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party.

Gallant reportedly hopes to bring calm to the current political situation in Israel by striking a deal to replace National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power party and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party, according to a report in Israel's local Yedioth Ahronoth news outlet.

The report, which did not cite sources, said Gallant is even willing to give up his own position as defense minister in order to secure the deal.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 13 news on Saturday, Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar (Likud) was asked about the possibility of former IDF Defense Minister Gantz joining the coalition.

Zohar said the choice is up to Gantz.

“Anyone who wants to join this government according to its basic guidelines could join in an instant. Unfortunately there were those who chose to boycott this coalition, and we are in a narrow coalition situation,” Zohar said.

“We want a coalition with right-wing guidelines, and we know that Benny Gantz really likes his stay in the opposition because that is how he becomes politically stronger, so we are not an option for him. We are not prepared for boycotts [within the coalition], if Gantz wants to join, let him be honored to negotiate according to the basic guidelines of the government, and he can join.”

A recent survey in Israel Hayom news outlet shows that a plurality of Israelis would prefer to see a unity government.

The poll showed that when asked the question: “Which composition of government would you prefer?” a whopping 35% of respondents said they wanted “a national unity government."

About 29% said they wanted a “full-right government," 27% responded that they prefer a “center-left government," while some 9% chose to respond, “a different answer.”

The same survey revealed that 79% of total respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the current government on the issue of cost of living, with 66% of Likud voters and 67% of United Torah Judaism voters giving a negative grade to the current government’s performance, despite those parties currently being represented in the coalition.

The most likely candidate to join the coalition for the purpose of creating a unity government would be Gantz.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gantz broke from the opposition and established a unity government with Netanyahu, citing the need for a functional government to address the health crisis at the time.

However, Netanyahu broke his agreements with Gantz, and the government collapsed.

Gantz, who has been polling well over the last few months, has not publicly commented on the survey about Israeli's interest in a unity government.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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