Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz has been voted in as Speaker of the Knesset as his party has split. MK Meir Cohen, Blue and White's original candidate for Speaker, was removed from the list of candidates, and MKs from Yesh Atid, a faction in Blue and White, did not attend the Knesset plenum session in support of Gantz's candidacy for Speaker.
There are reports that Benny Gantz will become foreign minister and Gabi Ashkenazi defense minister in a national unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gantz and MK Gabi Ashkenazi favor continuing the coalition negotiations with the Likud, and are supporting the appointment of Gantz himself, or one of his supporters, as Speaker, instead of Meir Cohen from Yesh Atid. The Likud opposed the election of Cohen as Speaker, and threatened to break off the negotiations if he was elected. The Likud fears that Yesh Atid will refrain from entering the coalition, and the election of a Yesh Atid members as Knesset Speaker will greatly hamper work in the Knesset and the government.
Sources associated with Gantz said that he had accepted the Likud's position, but that Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid had opposed it, and was threatening that his supporters would boycott the vote for Speaker if Gantz or one of his associates was the nominee for the position. The Labor Party expressed willingness to support this compromise, and designated temporary Speaker MK Amir Perez (Labor) accepted the Likud's request for a discussion of the appointment of a permanent Speaker.
The decision by Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz to become Knesset speaker, while cutting loose from the agreements with Yesh Atid and MK Yair Lapid, means the dissolution of the Blue and White Party. It appears now that the Gantz's Israel Resilience faction will become a party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
Blue and White is dissolving into its constituent factions, and Yesh Atid, led by Lapid, and Telem, led by MK Moshe Ya'alon, will remain outside the government.
Lapid withdrew from the joint party's WhatsApp group, following Gantz's decision to put his name forward as a candidate for Knesset Speaker. Gantz's candidacy is supported by the Likud, United Torah Judaism, and Israel Resilience. The Labor Party, Yesh Atid, and the Joint Arab List will oppose it, and some of them will not attend the Knesset session for the vote.
The Joint Arab List said that it opposed the appointment of Gantz as Speaker, because his appointment meant that Blue and White was on the way to supporting a unity government with Netanyahu continuing as prime minister.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 26, 2020
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