Netanyahu, Gantz Meeting Israeli President in Expected Bid for Unity Coalition

TEL AVIV - A majority of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will beat his main political rival Benny Gantz in April's elections and serve another term, tie David Ben-Gurion and become the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history, a new poll aired Monday showed.

The Times of Israel reports: After completing meetings with party representatives to hear their recommendations as to who should form the next government, and with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz receiving majority support in the new Knesset, President Reuven Rivlin on Monday issued an invitation for a meeting between the two in an attempt to move forward in the coalition-building process.

Netanyahu and Gantz both confirmed that they would attend the meeting, called for Monday evening. Shortly after Rivlin’s appeal, Netanyahu, speaking at a Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, said that “the only government that can be formed is a broad unity government” between his Likud and the centrist Blue and White.

Netanyahu, who received 55 MK recommendations to Gantz’s 54, made his own plea for Gantz to agree to a meeting “to achieve unity and compromise between the national camp headed by me… and the left-wing camp headed by Gantz.” Gantz has so far rejected an invitation to meet with the prime minster “with no preconditions,” a call Netanyahu made immediately after signing an agreement according to which his Likud party and all the parties on the religious right agreed to only enter a coalition as a single unit and negotiate the terms of the new government together.

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