Benjamin Netanyahu went ahead of Benny Gantz by one recommendation Monday after three Israeli-Palestinian politicians abstained from endorsing Gantz.
Israel: Arab Parties Emerge as Key Brokers in Forming New Gov't
The Joint List, an alliance of Palestinian-Israeli parties announced Sunday they would endorse Blue and White’s Gantz.
The Joint List won 13 sears in Tuesday making it Knesset’s third-largest bloc. Their support gave Gantz 57 recommendations. However, three Arab politicians from Palestinian nationalist Balad party abstained.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Monday that now the recommendations from the Joint List will account for 10 endorsements, giving Netanyahu a lead by one recommendation.
Rivlin also said he called both leaders Monday for a closed-door talk to break the impasse. The president has to choose a prime minister by Oct. 2 who will then have six weeks to form a government.
He is not obliged to pick Netanyahu but can choose whoever he thinks has the best chance to command a majority and form a government. Usually, it goes to the leader of the largest party but the close election result formed a deadlock.
Rivlin suggested that Netanyahu and Gantz should form a unity government. However, when Netanyahu offered coalition last Thursday, Gantz rebuffed it.
The Palestinian leaders said that they were not backing Gantz but rather attempting to topple Netanyahu, the longest-serving far-right prime minister of Israel who is facing three corruption charges.
“We have become illegitimate in Israeli politics in the Netanyahu era,” the leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, told Rivlin. “We are this time recommending Benny Gantz to form the next government.”
Ahmad Tibi, another Arab lawmaker said, “History is done: we’ll do what is needed to bring down Netanyahu.”