Benny Gantz’ Kahol Lavan party widened the edge over Netanyahu’s Likud according to the latest election results. Gantz is interested in a unity government, but wants to lead it.
In the last hours, Israel’s centrist blue-and-white Alliance has rejected a call by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join him in forming a coalition government. Mr. Netanyahu made the offer to his main rival Benny Gantz after failing to win a ruling majority in the second general elections in a year. He had hinted at a possible rotating Premiership, but Mr. Gantz said he wants to form a unity government with himself as the leader.
Gantz wants to lead unity government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin has called on his main rival Benny Gantz to join him in forming a broad governing coalition together after Tuesday’s election resulted in no clear winner. “I now call you, Knesset member Benny Gantz. Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today […] there is no reason for us to get to third elections”. In the wake of inconclusive election results, Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged that his promise of a right-wing government is no longer possible. Meanwhile, Mr. Gantz has rejected Mr. Netanyahu offer, saying his party will not enter a coalition with the Prime Minister. Mr. Gantz said that he should be Prime Minister in the new broad unity government. Mr. Netanyahu voiced his disappointment at Mr. Gantz rejection, but said he remained open for talks.
Gantz widens edge over Netanyahu as 98% of vote counted
Neither Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party nor Benny Gantz’ blue-and-white Alliance has the majority needed to form a government. It means the party leader tasked with forming a new government will also have the challenge of cutting deals with potential coalition partners. Avigdor Lieberman, who served as the Defence Minister of Israel from 2016 to 2018, is referred to by many as the kingmaker, someone with great influence but who is not a viable candidate. The party Lieberman chooses to align with will likely be the party to form a coalition. In this round of voting, Netanyahu’s Likud Party appeared to lose support while the Arab joint list gained several Parliament seats. In the next phase, potential coalition partners will meet with Israel’s President to recommend their preference between the leading parties. Based on the recommendations, the President will appoint either Benjamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz to form a coalition.
With 98 percent of the votes counted, Gantz’ party (Kahol Lavan) has won 33 out of 120 Knesset seats, while Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 31 seats. Gantz’ centre-left bloc has 57 seats, while Netanyahu’s right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc stands at 55 seats.