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  • Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel November 20, 2019.

    Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel November 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 November 2019

Gantz’s Blue and White party made the announcement before midnight as he had 28 days to complete the duty assigned but failed. 

Israeli ex-military chief Benny Gantz, the main political challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has failed to form the country’s next governing coalition as of Wednesday’s deadline after being tasked on Oct. 23 by President Reuven Rivlin.

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Gantz’s Blue and White party made the announcement before midnight as he had 28 days to complete the duty assigned, after incumbent Prime Minister from the far-right Likud party Netanyahu failed to do so for the second time back in September.

Since neither Netanyahu nor Gantz secured a ruling majority in parliament in elections in April and September, they had to depend on the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Lieberman, who has reiterated his opposition to ultra-orthodox Jewish parties that support Likud thus denying any backing to Netanyahu.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lieberman, known now as Israel's kingmaker, said he would not support any kind of minority government, either one backed by the Arab parties or a narrow one with the 55-seat right-wing bloc backing Netanyahu.

"As things stand now, we are on the way to another election," Lieberman said.

 

As the mandate to form a government is returned to President Rivlin, Gantz has effectively plunged Israel into even greater political uncertainty, raising the stakes for a third election within a year, a first in Israel's history as well as the fact that two candidates have failed to form a coalition. 

Yet still, now any Knesset (Israeli Parliament) member with the backing of at least 61 lawmakers would be tasked with forming a coalition. Lawmakers have 21 days to nominate a candidate. However, the likely scenario will be that Israelis be called to the polls again.

In the last elections held in September, the Blue and White party received 25.93 percent and obtained 33 of the 120 seats in Parliament, while Netanyahu reached 25.09 percent of votes and 31 seats in the Knesset.

The third political force in these elections was the Arab Joint List, which brings together Balad, Hadash, Taal, and the United Arab List, with 10.62 percent of the votes and 13 seats in Parliament. 

This week United States President Donald Trump was reported saying he felt “frustrated, bewildered, and angry” with the current political situation in Israel and especially with his ally Netanyahu, as White House sources added that “the president doesn’t like losers."

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