Saturday, 19 Oct 2019 - 20 of Tishri, 5780

Israel’s post election: President Rivlin says he ”will do everything he can to prevent third election’

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The official vote count in the Israeli election should be completed later on Thursday  but with 97 percent of ballots counted neither the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu’s Likud (55 seats) nor the centre-left bloc led by Gantz’s Blue and White (57 seats) can reach a 61-seat parliamentary majority without the support of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party (8 seats). Blue and White now holds a two seat lead over Likud (33 to 31).

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday ‘’I will do everything I can to prevent another general election,’’ as he spoke a a memorial ceremony for the ninth Israeli president Shimon Peres.

He made the declaration after Tuesday’s dead-locked election is raising fears of a third (repeat) election.

‘’The responsibility for forming a government that serves all the citizens of Israel with the dedication it deserves, is yours – the elected officials, and especially the heads of the two major parties,’’ he said at the memorial also attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

”It is imperative that we convene as quickly as possible, as soon as the final picture of the votes is clear, in order to work towards forming a government that can serve the State of Israel and the people of Israel again,”Rivlin added.

‘’Our current situation, which has gone on for a long time, with a transition government, grievously limits the ability of the government to act and to serve the citizens of Israel, and our ability to face the political, security and economic challenges we face,’’ he added.

The official vote count in the Israeli election should be completed later on Thursday  but with 97 percent of ballots counted neither the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu’s Likud (55 seats) nor the centre-left bloc led by Gantz’s Blue and White (57 seats) can reach a 61-seat parliamentary majority without the support of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party (8 seats). Blue and White now holds a two seat lead over Likud (33 to 31).

Whilst Gantz and Lieberman have said repeatedly that their goal is to form a broad, secular national unity government with Likud, the main stumbling block is Blue and White’s stated opposition to forming a government with Netanyahu due to his impending corruption indictments.

In the meantime, Netanyahu called Thursday for a broad national unity government with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, less than a day after the Likud leader claimed he had formed a bloc with his right-wing allies.

“Benny, it is on us to form a broad unity government,” he told Gantz, whose party is leading with 33 seats compared to Netanyahu’s 31. “The nation expects us, both of us, to accept responsibility and work together.”

Shortly afterwards, photographs emerged of the two men shaking hands at the  memorial service for former President Peres, with President Reuven Rivlin by their sides. In the coming days and after consulting with all the other parties, Rivlin will give the leader he believes most likely to succeed in forming a majority coalition the mandate to do so.

Votes from soldiers, hospital workers and diplomats (so-called ‘double envelopes’) are set to be counted by tonight, although no real change in the balance of the blocs is likely. Historically these votes represent a broad spectrum of Zionist parties – neither Arab-Israeli or ultra-Orthodox – which cancel each other out. These ‘double envelopes’ make up 5.5 per cent of the overall vote, roughly translating to 6 to 7 seats.

 

Israeli political leaders will now engage in complex negotiations in which a series of creative solutions will start to appear in the media as well as stories about potential coalitions, rotating Prime Ministers, party splits and policy compromises. Some will be the result of real talks and others designed as part of the negotiation tactics to force a deal.

But analysts are predicting that the proceedings could last months. In one extreme scenario, unprecedented in Israeli history, three different party leaders could be tasked with forming a government and fail to do so – the last of whom would be at the end of December – after which the Knesset would automatically dissolve and elections called again.

Here are a few creative scenarios that could emerge:

Blue and White form a grand coalition with Yisrael Beitenu and Likud – Gantz agrees a rotating Prime Minister deal with Netanyahu and Lieberman becomes Deputy Prime Minister.

Likud and Yisrael Beitenu do a deal and form a right-wing ultra-Orthodox coalition in which Lieberman becomes Prime Minister after two years.

Likud decide to replace Netanyahu. Their new leader forms a grand coalition with Blue and White (with or without Yisrael Beitenu). They agree a rotating Prime Minister deal.

President Rivlin will begin consultations with the parties elected to the Knesset on Sunday and will then continue in talks with the candidates recommended by the parties to form the government

After the consultations, which normally last around two days, and in light of the requests he has received from the political system, the president will, if necessary, invite the candidates proposed by the parties during the consultations to form the government for further talks.

As happened in the last elections for the first time, the president has ordered that the meetings with the parties will be broadcast live on all platforms, to ensure transparency for Israeli citizens.

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