With the unofficial final results in from the Knesset election last week, President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday began consultations with representative of the various political parties, including two largest parties; Blue & White, the largest, and the ruling Likud party, which fell behind in the race.
*****WANT ELECTION UPDATES IN LIVE TIME? SIGN UP NOW TO YWN STATUS UPDATES ON WHATSAPP***** More than 23,000 signed up to YWN WhatsApp Status to receive news in live time. Click this link – or send a message to 1-888-4-YW-NEWS (888-499-6397) – to see our status posts*****
Israel’s largely ceremonial president is tasked with picking the politician with the best chance of forming a stable coalition government. While usually a mere formality, this time Rivlin plays a key role after an election result in which neither of the top candidates has an outright majority.
Naturally, Blue & White recommended that Gantz be given the mandate to form a government, while Likud told Rivlin that it should be given to Netanyahu.
Most significant though was the news on Sunday afternoon from the Joint Arab List which met with Rivlin and recommended Gantz. This is the first time that the Arab List is willing to sit in an Israeli Government.
“For us, the most important thing is removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power… so we will recommend Benny Gantz to form the next government,” Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tells Rivlin.
This now gives Gantz 57 MKs recommending him as prime minister, to 55 backing incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu.
In addition, MK Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beitenu party, has announced he is only willing to enter such an arrangement and he will not join a coalition effort by either of the parties independent of the other.
Liberman rules out Netanyahu because of the premier’s agreement with Chareidim, and says he can’t recommend Gantz because he’s “preserving the option” of forming a government with the Chareidim and/or the predominantly Arab Joint List.
The chareidim have stated they will only recommend Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to receive the presidential mandate to form a coalition, with Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri reiterating this on Sunday. That said, at present, if the Joint Arab List recommends Gantz, he will have the largest party as well as the most parties recommend that he receives the presidential mandate.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)