In an interview with Israel's Knesset Channel on Sunday, Knesset Member Hili Tropper of the National Unity party, was asked if his party had received calls from Likud to join the coalition in order to replace “far-right” parties.
Tropper admitted that they had received such offers, but stated emphatically, “It won’t happen.”
He said that senior Likud party members had asked National Unity, led by Benny Gantz, to “come save us from the government we set up and come and replace them.”
Specifically, the parties mentioned were Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and Itamar Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power.
His party’s decision to decline, he said, was based upon their previous experience with Netanyahu and the recognition that they don’t have a true political partner.
In 2021, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, the predecessor to the National Unity party, entered into a power-sharing agreement with Likud that would have seen a rotating premiership between Netanyahu and Gantz. However, the coalition collapsed before Gantz received his turn because the government failed to pass a budget. Many political analysts believe that Netanyahu himself was behind the collapse.
Some Israeli news sites have been speculating on a similar agreement, especially as Netanyahu seems to have problems with coalition partners.
A leaked WhatsApp message from Natan Eshel, a long-time Netanyahu political advisor, asked several journalists, “Why doesn’t the news media ask them [referring to Gantz and Lapid], ‘Will an agreed-upon compromise put you in the Netanyahu government?’”
In January, Arutz 7 news ran a report stating that Netanyahu was deliberately refusing to rein in the “extremists” in his government, in order to create the necessary conditions to invite either Gantz or Yair Lapid into the government as a “counterbalance.”
On Friday, The Jerusalem Post published an opinion piece calling for Gantz to do exactly that.
According to Tropper’s statements in the interview, however, that is not an option.
Tropper said that National Unity is not willing to join an alliance with Netanyahu, nor are they willing to provide him with "political support.”
"We are against this government, not against the nation," Tropper continued. “ Every good thing that they bring, we will be there,” however added, "We won’t give them political backing because they’re not worthy of political support.".
Tropper said he didn’t think Netanyahu believed his right-wing partners would go so far to the right, so fast. “They didn’t believe that it would be so strong, so broad, or that the price would be so high,” Tropper said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.