09/19/2019, 12.23
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Elections in Israel: to hold onto power, Netanyahu invites rival Gantz to join unity government

The outgoing premier called the centrist rival to propose an alliance. He would also have offered a possible rotating premiership deal with Gantz. With 63% of ballots  scrutinized, the Likud has 32 seats, one less than the "Blue White" coalition (33). But the real kingmaker remains Lieberman.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday on his main rival, former general Benny Gantz, to join him in a broad, governing coalition after Israel’s election ended with no clear winner. In the aftermath of the September 17th vote, the outgoing Prime Minister seems to admitted a (partial) defeat and recognized the deadlock, which effectively prevents one of the two sides from forming a government. And in order to survive, he seems to give in to compromise and join forces.

With 63% of votes counted, the party of right-wing incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu is just behind that of his centrist main challenger, Benny Gantz.

The results indicate that both men will struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller parties.

Mr Netanyahu is hoping to stay in power for a record fifth term.

Citing sources in the Central Election Committee, Israeli media reported that Mr Gantz's Blue and White alliance was on track to win 33 of the 120 seats in the Knesset (parliament), followed by Mr Netanyahu's Likud party with 32 seats.

A centre-left bloc led by Mr Gantz and a bloc of right-wing and religious parties led by Mr Netanyahu were both projected to control 56 seats - five short of a majority of 60 plus one. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday on his main rival, former general Benny Gantz, to join him in a broad, governing coalition after Israel’s election ended with no clear winner.

Netanyahu, in a video message, said he preferred to form a right-wing coalition, but the results showed it was not possible.

"During the elections, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government," Netanyahu said.

"But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible."

He went on to call on Gantz to form a "broad unity government today.”

Gantz had not yet responded, but he has previously repeatedly ruled out joining a coalition led by Mr Netanyahu. Since now it is unclear however if he would accept such a government with Netanyahu, who faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead, remaining as prime minister.

In subsequent comments, at a ceremony - which Gantz also attended - marking the third anniversary of the death of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, Netanyahu said his offer came with no preconditions. A smiling Netanyahu and Gantz warmly shook hands at the event.

Netanyahu hinted at a possible rotating premiership deal with Gantz, noting that Peres, a left-wing leader, had forged a coalition with conservative Yitzhak Shamir in which they rotated top office between 1984 and 1988.

Anyway, the alliance between Netanyahu and Gantz still needs the votes of Israel Beytenu guided by Avigdor Lieberman - the real kingmaker - to obtain a majority at the Knesset. And it was Lieberman himself who, first, broke with Netanyahu to beat him at the polls to drive him out of the Israeli political scene.

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