President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday began consulting with Members of Knesset from the various political parties on who should receive the presidential mandate to form a government.
The election tally has been completed, though results from 15 ballots have yet to be published due to reported irregularities, which are under investigation.
The results have varied slightly as the counting continued in the days after the elections. The official results are :
Benny Gantz’s Blue and White – 33
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud – 31
The Joint Arab List – 13
Shas – 9
United Torah Judaism (UTJ)– 8
Yisrael Beiteinu – 8
Yemina – 7
Labor + Gesher – 6
Democratic Union– 5
Israeli law dictates that the president task an MK with forming a government, preferring the individual with the best chance of doing so. To discern which of the MKs has such a chance, Rivlin began a round of consultation with the newly elected MKs, who will recommend a coalition builder.
On Sunday, Rivlin will meet with MKs from Blue and White, Likud, Joint List and Yisrael Beiteinu. The consultations will continue on Monday when Rivlin will meet with Yemina, UTJ, Labor+Gesher and the Democratic Union.
Usually, the President tasks an MK who received more than 60 recommendations, giving him a good chance of forming a government after negotiations. This time, however, no MK is expected to receive such support.
Following the President’s consultation, he will have to decide who will be the first to try and form a government. The likely candidates are Blue and White’s Benny Gantz and Likud’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Neither of the major party leaders has a clear majority, as both the right and center-left bloc consist of less than 60 seats.
Several promises that were made during the election campaign prevent a potential government from forming.
Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, said he would only support a unity government, and thus will not support the efforts of either bloc leader to form a government. Gantz said he would not join a coalition with Netanyahu or with the Ultra-Orthodox parties. Netanyahu has signed an agreement with the right-wing parties in his bloc that will prevent any single party from joining a coalition without all the others.
The political deadlock will force one of two scenarios in the coming months. Either one of the parties will break a promise made to its constituents during the election campaign, or Israel will go to vote for the third consecutive time.