Presidential Consultations End With No One in the Lead to Form Government

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Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS on 28 January, 2019

By Arye Green/TPS • 23 September, 2019

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday concluded his round of consultations with the newly elected Members of Knesset (MK) with no candidate receiving a majority of 60 or more recommendations to be tasked with forming a government.

On Sunday evening, Rivlin met with MKs from Blue and White, Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu. The consultations continued on Monday morning when Rivlin met with Yemina, United Torah Judaism, Labor+Gesher and the Democratic Union.

MK Benny Gantz was recommended by the members of Blue and White, 10 out of the 13 members of the Joint List, Labor+Gesher and the Democratic Union, totaling at 54 recommendations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a total of 55 recommendation by the members of Likud, Shas, UTJ and Yemina.

Gantz would have received more recommendations than Netanyahu if all members of the Joint List lent him their support. However, the Balad faction did not recommend any candidate to the president.

Yisrael Beiteinu, led by MK Avigdor Liberman, also chose not to recommend any candidate, leaving both Gantz and Netanyahu with no decisive majority. Liberman has said he wants to see the formation of a unity government and therefore chose to deprive both ideological blocs of a clear majority.

It is unclear what Rivlin intends to do in light of the inconclusive consultation round. He has said, however, that he intends to do all he can to aid the formation of a unity government.

Rivlin has invited Netanyahu and Gantz to meet him on Monday evening. The two are heads of the majority parties in each bloc, and constitute crucial elements in a potential unity government. Rivlin will likely attempt to facilitate an agreement between them that would make a unity government possible.

Both Netanyahu and Gantz have accepted Rivlin’s invitation to meet at his office in Beit HaNasi.

Last Thursday, two days after the elections, Netanyahu publically called on Gantz to meet him and discuss the terms for establishing a broad unity government. He did so after forming a bloc with right-wing parties that ensured none of them would engage in talks or join a coalition without the others.

Gantz dismissed Netanyahu’s offer to form a unity government, saying he will be the one leading a unity government.

“To establish a unity government one does not come with political blocs and spins but rather an honest, responsible and serious attitude,” he said.

Netanyahu spoke at a Likud meeting on Monday, wishing all of Israel a “year of unity.”

“The only possible government is a wide unity government between us. The only way to reach such a government is to sit and talk,” he said.

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