Israel: Post-election path to government unclear

JERUSALEM

Preliminary results from Tuesday’s Israeli election show neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz able to secure the 61 seats needed to form a government. These results, if confirmed, could usher in a new period of uncertainty over Israel’s next government.

“Israel is stuck between two candidates who are unable to form a government in these current Knesset results,” said Yoni Ben-Menachem, a Middle East Israeli analyst told Anadolu Agency.

“Netanyahu is in need of the Yisrael Beiteinu party [“Israel Our Home”], headed by Avigdor Lieberman, to form a government, but Lieberman is imposing conditions on Netanyahu to do so,” he explained.

He added: “Gantz is in need of Lieberman and the votes of the Arab Joint List as well, which is impossible to be realized due to the complete differences between these parties or blocs.”

Ben-Menachem said the only possible solutions are to form a government between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White party, or for Netanyahu to accept Lieberman’s conditions and form a government.

Otherwise, there may be a need for a third round of elections, following this week’s and the inconclusive polls in April.

Ambiguous results

“The results announced don’t give anyone a chance to form the government.” said Mansour Abbas, a Knesset member of the Arab Joint List.

“Netanyahu’s situation is more difficult than that in April, when he got a bloc of 60 votes in the Knesset,” he added.

“Now according to the preliminary results he only has 55 or 56 votes, which makes it very difficult to form a government.”

Abbas said that according to Israeli law, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with the winning parties to decide who should form a government.

“The member of Knesset assigned to form a government will be given a period of 28 days and it could be extended for another 14 days with the president’s approval.

“If the government is not formed in this period, the Knesset will ask another member to do so in 28 days with no extension. In case of failure, a new round of elections will be conducted.”

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said he is seeking to form a government without using any Arab parties.

From his side, Blue and White party leader Gantz said he will consult with everyone on forming a new government.

Earlier, Israeli media reported that the Blue and White party could join a government with the Likud if Netanyahu were no longer Likud’s leader.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
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