Mar 5, 2020 - World

Israel’s opposition uniting in bid to bring down Netanyahu

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israel's election committee has published the results of Monday's election showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing bloc with 58 seats — three short of the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.

Why it matters: Worse still for Netanyahu, particularly in the wake of what looked like a remarkable victory, a majority might now be uniting behind an effort to effectively end his political career. His corruption trial, meanwhile, is set to begin in just 12 days.

Breaking it down: Netanyahu's Likud Party won the most seats in Monday's election, with 36. Allied right-wing parties won an additional 22.

  • The Blue and White Party, led by Netanyahu's centrist rival Benny Gantz, won 33 seats. The liberal Labor Party won another 7 seats.
  • The Joint List of predominantly Arab Parties had its best-ever showing, winning 15 seats.
  • Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's party, which split from Netanyahu in 2018 and had been refusing to align with either major party, won 7.

The big picture: Israeli politics have been deadlocked for nearly a year, with Netanyahu and Gantz both failing to form majority governments after the two previous elections.

Driving the news: But this time could be different. Lieberman, who previously pushed for a Netanyahu-Gantz unity government, now says he will recommend Gantz to form the next government.

  • If the Joint List does the same, that will put 62 seats behind Gantz, at least temporarily, and make it likely that President Reuven Rivlin will offer him a mandate to form a government.
  • For now, the Joint List has said it's open to supporting Gantz but only if he makes "a change truly in the direction of peace and equality."
  • If he does get the first crack at forming a government, Gantz will also control the parliamentary agenda during that process.

Between the lines: That's crucial because Lieberman has also said he'd support a bill to prevent anyone under criminal indictment from forming a government. That's clearly targeted at Netanyahu.

  • If an anti-Netanyahu coalition does come together in the coming days, it will be deeply unstable.
  • Lieberman's party and the Joint List are bitter rivals, and it's unclear whether they'd be willing to unite behind a Gantz government.
  • But even a temporary alliance could be enough to ensure that if Israel is forced to hold an unprecedented fourth election, Netanyahu won't be a candidate for prime minister.
  • Netanyahu has no clear path to the majority needed to form a government, though he's pulled rabbits out of his hat before.

The bottom line: It's still far too early to declare the end of Netanyahu's reign as Israel's longest-serving prime minister. But it's becoming increasingly clear what the end might look like.

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Netanyahu's party on course to win Israel's election: exit polls

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is projected to win the most seats in Israel's election, according to exit polls. All three updated polls show his right-wing bloc with 59 seats, two short of a majority.

Why it matters: The exit polls are not official results, but they project a strong performance from Netanyahu in Israel's third elections in 10 months despite a looming corruption trial. Both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, his centrist rival, failed to form coalition governments following elections in April and September.

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In a dramatic reversal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief rival, Benny Gantz, has agreed to join forces in an "emergency government" to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: This is a big step toward ending Israel's year-long political deadlock and a victory for Netanyahu, who will stay on as prime minister for at least another 18 months even as his corruption trial gets underway.

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Netanyahu rival Gantz to receive mandate for forming Israeli government

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The leader of Israel's Blue and White party Benny Gantz has won recommendations from 61 members of the Knesset, paving the way for him to receive the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government after Israel’s third elections.

Why it matters: The fact that Gantz managed to secure 61 recommendations means that Rivlin by law has to grant him the mandate. This will allow Gantz to take control of the Knesset, appoint the speaker from his party, control the main committees and start pushing legislation that could prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government due to his corruption indictments.

Go deeperArrowMar 15, 2020 - World