Gantz, Blue and White Secure Narrow Lead Over Netanyahu, Likud, in Latest Israeli Election

Israel held new elections last week, after elections in April failed to result in a new government under the two leading parties, Likud and the Blue and White Party. Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party came out on top, with his Blue and White party leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud by two seats. Reported by CNN. Read more… 

The Arab Joint List will recommend Benny Gantz to form the next government. The Democratic Union party and Labor-Gesher party said they would endorse Gantz, while the two Ultra-Orthodox parties, the Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) said they would recommend Netanyahu. Between the Blue and White, Democratic Union, and Labor-Gesher parties, Gantz has 57 seats, while Netanyahu, with the backing of Likud, the Ultra-Orthodox parties, and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina alliance, would have only 55 seats. The kingmaker is Avigdor Liberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu gained three seats. Liberman, however, says he will not endorse either Netanyahu or Gantz. Liberman said sees the Ultra-Orthodox parties as political rivals, and the Joint List as enemies. Reported by Haaretz. Read more…

Instead, Liberman is calling for the formation of a broad national unity government made up of Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud, and Blue and White. Liberman says that economic and security challenges facing the country necessitate forming a unity government. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shatyyeh, meanwhile, sees no difference between Netanyahu and Gantz, saying the difference between the two was like the difference between “Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Exit polls showed that Netanyahu was without a clear path to forming a government, and that neither the Likud nor the Blue and White could easily secure the 61-seats needed to form a coalition government, but left open the possibility of a unity government. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Gantz nonetheless cautiously declared victory based on exit poll results. “Of course we will wait for the real results. But as it looks now, we fulfilled the mission. And more importantly, we did it according to our way,” Gantz told supporters in Tel Aviv on election night. Reported by The Times of Israe. Read more…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters early Wednesday that despite exit polls showing he would be unable to form a coalition government, he would “go on serving the people of Israel.” Speaking to a mostly empty hall at the Tel Aviv Expo Center, Netanyahu said that Israel needs “a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.” He also said that said there cannot be a government that relies on “anti-Zionist Arab parties that oppose the very existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state — parties that praise and glorify blood-thirsty terrorists who kill our soldiers, our citizens, our children.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Netanyahu began reaching out to allies after the election, speaking with Shas party head Aryeh Deri, United Torah Judaism leaders Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, and New Right party member Naftali Bennett, agreeing to move forward. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

On Thursday, Netanyahu called on Gantz to meet with him to discuss forming a “broad unity government.” Netanyahu said it was clear that Israeli voters did not want the Knesset divided into two blocs, adding, “Benny, we must establish a broad unity government today … The people expect us, both of us, to show responsibility and work for cooperation. Let’s meet today, any hour, any time, to set in motion this move required by the hour.” Netanyahu also said that there was no reason to go to a third round of elections. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

More Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Gantz also vowed to form a broad unity government with himself as prime minister. “Blue & White with me at the head has won the elections and we are the biggest party,” Gantz said after Netanyahu’s call for a unity government. Gantz said he would seek to establish a “broad liberal government” that would “bring about a change in priorities …” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

The Joint List initially postponed its recommendation for Gantz to be tasked to form the next government. Three of the four members of the Joint List are for the move, but the fourth, the anti-Zionist party Balad, is opposed in principle, with members saying they “want to send a message that we won’t come crawling to Blue & White,” and that “They need to understand that a recommendation has a price.” In addition to Balad, the Joint List is made up of the Hadash, Ta’al, and Ra’am parties. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin will start meetings with the newly elected Knesset factions to decide who he will task with forming the next government. Reported by i24 News. Read more…