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After the Labor merger, Levy-Abekasis ruled out joining the government with the indicted PM



In his first statement since merging his party with Labor, Orly Levy-Abekasis said on Friday that he would not sit in government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he was charged.

"Sitting with Netanyahu when he was charged was not an option. He will be forced to spend hours in the courthouse, and the country needs a prime minister who can give his full time, "Levy-Abekasis told Channel 13.

Netanyahu faces charges, awaiting a hearing with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, about fraud and violations of allegations of trust in three corruption cases, and on allegations of bribery in one of them.

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He has pleaded not guilty and said that even if he was charged, which could occur in early October, he could continue to serve as prime minister

On Thursday, Levy-Abekasis said his party Gesher would ally with the Labor Party, apparently marking a right-shift for the center-left Labor Party.

The move by leader Amir Peretz drew criticism from leftist leaders Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz and Ehud Barak from the newly formed Israeli Democratic party, who accused Peretz and Abekasis Levy of finally being able to join Netanyahu's government.

Peretz also said on Saturday that he would not join a government led by Netanyahu "under suspicion or under indictment."

Levy-Abekasis, a former Knesset member with the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party led by Avigdor Liberman, split to form his own party, Gesher, earlier this year but failed to make him the Knesset in April.

Although he was largely focused on social issues, the daughter of former Likud foreign minister David Levy remained largely identified with rights, and the merger was largely seen as a movement by Labor to encourage more support from the political center than from Meretz, which was further left .

Chairman of the Gesher party, Orly Levy-Abekasis (left) and Labor leader Amir Peretz announced their joint steps in the September election, in Tel Aviv, July 18, 2019. (Roy Alima / Flash90)

On Friday, Levy-Abekasis told Channel 13 that he did not rule out partnering with Likud, but said that Netanyahu had led the party astray, far from its social principles, and that he should resign if charged. He refused to vote in favor of the so-called law of immunity which would give Netanyahu immunity from prosecution.

"This is not a party that I invite to grow up," he said, referring to Likud. "I will not choose immunity laws and Likud is a worthy party, but whoever stands on his head needs to prove that Israeli interests are important to them. We will not sit with Netanyahu until it is clear that there will be no charges against him. "

He said he needed to wait for a decision from Mandelblit before deciding whether to work with Netanyahu, whose trial with Mandelblit was scheduled for October 2-3, after the attorney general refused last month to postpone the September 17 election.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on July 14, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

Official indictments can take weeks or months after the trial.

He gave temporary support to the chairman of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz, saying "not everyone is perfect, but he deserves to be prime minister."

Although partnering with the left-wing Labor Party, he said Gesher, which means "bridge" in Hebrew, would maintain his position to the right of the Labor Party.

"I came as a bridge." Gesher is an independent faction. Gesher will maintain his agenda, "he told Channel 12.

He said he would support a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians, which he said would require concessions regarding West Bank settlements. Every politician who says otherwise is lying or unrealistic, he said.

"If there is a peace agreement, of course I will support, as long as our security needs are met, and our interests are about the border," he said.

Gesher is expected to receive three seats in the first 10 places of the board, Channel 12 reported. It is not clear where exactly the party members will be placed.

At a press conference announcing the merger, Levy-Abekasis said he had received a merger offer from the right and left but "when the offer came from Amir, it felt natural for me to knock down the wall and see what united and connected us … it's time we let go of terms & # 39; right & # 39; and & # 39; left & # 39; and gather for the good of the country. "

He added that some offers were "more attractive and safer, but I would rather go with someone I can trust. He proved himself in the past. "


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