Gantz and Netanyahu break off talks of a unity government that would include both of them

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz, who has been tasked with assembling a coalition government, said Thursday that it has broken off talks with Likud on a unity government without reaching an agreement.

“Contact with the Likud negotiating team has been terminated this evening,” Blue and White said in a statement. “There was no meeting today and, in contrast to reports indicating otherwise, we have not arrived at any agreements.

“What we have seen today is endless cynical political spin, while the Israeli people are contending with a major crisis. Next week, Likud will see an operational Knesset, working on behalf of the people.”

Reports had circulated that Gantz was willing to split up Blue and White by joining a unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, and that he would go second in a rotation for prime minister.

President Reuven Rivlin tapped Gantz earlier this week to form a coalition government. In addition to the unity option, Gantz could try to form a center-left minority government joined by Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party with support from the outside by the mostly Arab parties of the Joint List.

Earlier Thursday, Blue and White filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court against Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s decision to close the Knesset and prevent it from meeting. The court will hear the case on Sunday, The Times of Israel reported, the day before Edelstein said he would reopen the parliament.