Sep 20, 2019

Netanyahu pushes unity government to avoid fall from power

Bejamin Netanyahu addresses supporters on election night. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

If the Benjamin Netanyhahu era is coming to an end, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is going out swinging.

By the numbers: Netanyahu’s Likud party is on course for 31 seats after Tuesday’s election, with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party winning 33, per Haaretz. But Gantz’s center-left bloc (57 seats) and Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc (55) are both short of the 61 seats needed for a majority.

  • The remaining 8 seats belong to a party led by Avigdor Lieberman, formerly Netanyahu’s defense minister.
  • Now a kingmaker, Lieberman wants a “national unity” government involving both Likud and Blue and White, but excluding Arab parties on the left and ultra-Orthodox parties on the right.
  • Netanyahu is now leading the call for a unity government, an outcome he would have scoffed at before the election, but has suddenly embraced with his political and legal future looking uncertain. He’s hinting at a possible rotating premiership.
  • Gantz says he’d support a unity government, but only with him as prime minister. He says he won’t serve under Netanyahu, who faces 3 pending corruption indictments and has made securing immunity his top legislative priority.
  • Gantz, 60, is a former military chief but a political novice. He’s campaigned as the steady, moderate alternative to the fiery Netanyahu.

What’s next: After consultations with the parties, President Reuven Rivlin will select a candidate to attempt to form a government. If no solution is reached, new elections are possible.

  • President Trump reacted cooly to the possible loss of his closest international ally. America's relations, he said, "are with Israel."

Go deeper

Israeli president gives Netanyahu first shot to form government

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government after negotiations for a unity government with Benny Gantz, leader of an opposition center-left bloc, broke down.

Why it matters: Netanyahu would need 61 members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to support his government. His right-wing block won just 55 seats in the Sept. 17 election, though, and he has no clear path to a majority.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

Netanyahu and rival Gantz meet for first time since Israel elections

Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Gantz. Photos: Menahem Kahana/AFP; Amir Levy via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz met on Monday for the first time since this month's elections.

Why it matters: The 2 leaders were summoned to a trilateral meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his residence in Jerusalem in an attempt to break the political deadlock and start negotiations on forming a unity government. The president of Israel is largely a ceremonial post, but Rivlin does have the authority to give a mandate to either Gantz or Netanyahu to form the next government.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Trump's Middle East envoy meets with Netanyahu after election loss

Jason Greenblatt and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's envoy for Middle East peace, met in Jerusalem Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The backdrop: As had been expected, Netanyahu failed to win a parliamentary majority as the final results of Israel's elections were published this morning.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019