Israel’s major parties engage in coalition talks amid possible unity government

The final results last week’s Israeli election will be released today. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party secured the most

israel netanyahu gantz

Photo: Abir Sultan/EPA

The final results last week’s Israeli election will be released today.

Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party secured the most seats in the Knesset (33). However, with the backing of smaller parties, PM Benjamin Netanyahu controls 57 seats to Gantz’s 54, giving neither the requisite 61-seat governing majority.

Gantz had previously ruled out governing with Netanyahu—who is facing indictment on corruption charges—or any ultra-Orthodox parties, but he has since reconsidered. President Reuven Rivlin urged the two leaders to form a unity government instead of holding new elections. Together, they would control 64 seats in parliament—a slim majority.

A Blue and White and Likud coalition seems to be the most likely outcome at this point, with Gantz and Netanyahu agreeing to split the four-year term of prime minister between them. It is unclear who would govern first.

For Netanyahu, the question is one of his personal freedom—his serving as prime minister protects him from indictment. Gantz, on the other hand, has suggested that, as leader of the largest party, he must govern first. Ultimately, the Yisrael Beiteinu party’s Avigdor Liberman, who has only agreed to join a national unity government that excludes the ultra-Orthodox, might decide who serves first as PM. For Netanyahu to gain Liberman’s support, he may have to abandon his alliance with the ultra-Orthodox right-wing, a bedrock of his support.

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