Israeli opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz expressed their willingness to join Netanyahu’s government, with Lapid demanding that far-right leaders and ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir be removed and Gantz agreeing to join alongside the two, The Times of Israel said on Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition heads discussed on Saturday evening the possibility of joining Netanyahu’s government because of what they call “the emergency created by the day’s infiltration and rocket attacks from Gaza,” according to The Times of Israel.
Netanyahu said that he proposed to the two of them to enter into a broad emergency government, citing the joining of former Likud leader Menachem Begin to the government of then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, on the eve of the 1967 war, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on Sunday.
Gantz said that he looks positively at joining a government that focuses on the security situation, even in the presence of right-wing ministers, Haaretz said.
Lapid explained in a statement that Netanyahu was aware that his “extremist and non-functional” government could not manage the war and stressed that he had no doubt that former Defense Minister Benny Gantz would also participate in such a government, Haaretz said.
He added that the emergency government “will make clear to our enemies that the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens stand behind the Israeli army and defense agencies,” according to the Israeli newspaper.
The Times of Israel also said that secret negotiations took place during the past months to alleviate the judicial crisis in Israel and the struggle over the division of power “that has captured the collective national consciousness over the past ten months.”
Lapid and Gantz will meet on Saturday evening, according to the Times of Israel.
The two had previously criticized Netanyahu for forming a government with “extremists” and avoided the idea of forming a unity government that included them, the Israeli newspaper said.