Last time we checked, the dysfunctional Israeli political system had just completed its third attempt in a year to elect a Prime Minister.

Based on the exit polls, it appeared that Bibi Netanyahu would be the next Prime Minster, with his Likud Party and other religious and right-wing parties obtaining a majority.

But, when the actual votes were counted, Bibi and his coalition fell 3 seats short of the needed 61 seat majority in the Knesset.

The Blue-and-White Party leader, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, has cobbled together a potential majority coalition recommending him for Prime Minister, after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, leader of a secular party and someone who hates Netanyahu and his religious party supporters, threw his support to Gantz. Based on that, Gantz gets the first shot at forming a government.

The Times of Israel reports:

Gantz would need a Knesset majority made up of his Blue and White (33 seats), the hawkish Yisrael Beytenu (7 seats) and dovish Labor and Meretz (6 seats without Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abekasis), with support from outside of the coalition from the Arab lawmakers of the Joint List (15 seats).

If all those parties recommend him to form the next government, even without becoming part of it, he would have the backing of 61 MKs compared to 58 for Netanyahu from Likud (36), the ultra-Orthodox Shas (9) and United Torah Judaism (7) parties, and the right-wing Yamina (6).

This would be a minority government, because not all parties would be part of the government even if they recommended Gantz for Prime Minister.

But there’s a big “but” here. Even with Liberman, Gantz gets to 61 only with the support of the Joint List of Israeli Arab parties, at least some of whom call for the destruction of Israel and include Knesset members who glorify terrorists. And that means Gantz may lose some of those 61 seats for his coalition, as Yoram Hazony tweeted:

President asked Gantz to form a government—something it seems he cannot do.

He’s got 61 (including the anti-Zionist Joint List, without Orly Levi). But Hauser and Hendel (Blue-White) say they won’t go in with the anti-Zionist Joint List.

So Gantz has 59.

Which is nothing.

The Jerusalem Post adds more context to this mess:

In accepting the mandate, Gantz vowed that within a few days, he would form a “wide, patriotic” government that would “represent all citizens of Israel and defend the rights of residents of Judea and Samaria, Arab citizens and residents of the periphery and the Center of the country.”

Currently, the only parties willing to join a Gantz-led government are his Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Meretz and the Joint List is ready to support the government from outside the coalition. But there are at least two MKs in Blue and White who refuse to support a government backed by the Joint List, which would leave Gantz short of a majority.

Legally, 61 MKs have to vote for the government at first, even if it ends up being a minority government with less than 61 MKs.

So a minority government put in place only by the backing of parties that seek the destruction of Israel?

I dont think this is over, or that Bibi definitely is out of the game. Liberman has said he will do everything to avoid a fourth election. But if Gantz fails to put together a government, and the only alternative is Bibi or a fourth election, perhaps that will be the excuse Liberman needs to back a Likud-led government.


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