08:40 GMT +308 December 2019
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), Israeli president of the Supreme Court  Esther Hayut (C) and Benny Gantz (L), leader of Blue and White party, attend a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on September 19, 2019

    Netanyahu Says Arab Party-Backed Coalition Gov’t Would be ‘Dream Come True’ for Iran, ‘Terrorists’

    © AFP 2019 / GIL COHEN-MAGEN
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    Israel is mired in a political deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the opposition Blue and White Party, with neither proving able to form a coalition government after parliamentary elections in April and September.

    Prime Minister Netanyahu took a dig at his opponents and the prospects of a Blue and White-led coalition government on Monday, saying any coalition involving the Arab-majority political known as the Joint List would be a “dream come true” for Israel’s enemies.

    “A minority government backed by the Joint List is Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ dream come true,” Netanyahu said, speaking at the Knesset, his remarks quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

    “In 48 hours we might have a minority government backed by terror supporters,” he added.

    Netanyahu clarified that he wasn’t lumping all Arab-Israelis in with the alleged ‘terror supporters’. “I am talking about the [lawmakers] who support terrorist organisations that want to destroy Israel,” he said.

    After the September 17 legislative elections which left both the government and opposition in a deadlock and trying to form separate coalitions, observers have assumed that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s only shot at forming a coalition would require a partnership with Arab lawmakers from the Joint List, and possibly former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman has stressed that he would never join any alliance which includes the Joint List, describing the alliance as an anti-Israeli ‘fifth column’.

    Israel classifies Lebanese political and militant movement Hezbollah and Palestinian political and militant movement Hamas as terrorist groups, with the US and some European countries also classifying the groups as such.

    ‘Too Much Democracy’

    Also on Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who has been heading negotiations to form a unity government which would include both Likud and Blue and White, said a third election may be possible if negotiations fail.

    “We must find a way for the two major parties to join forces, but it seems that their leaders want another election. This is already too much democracy. Two elections in a year is enough,” Rivlin said, speaking at a meeting with a group of ambassadors on Monday.

    Emphasising that Israelis don’t want another election, and that a third vote would create a number of problems for Israel, Rivlin conceded that “we may face another election” if talks fail.

    Israel’s ongoing political deadlock has led to problems not only inside the country, but for Tel Aviv’s transatlantic allies, as well. On Sunday, Israeli media reported, citing sources, that US President Donald Trump has expressed “disappointment” over the situation in Israel and with Prime Minister Netanyahu personally, since the deadlock has prevented Washington from unveiling its ambitious Israel-Palestine peace plan.

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