Despite the equal mandates attained by both incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s ‘Likud’ and its main rival, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s ‘Blue and White’ – the latter decided not to wait for the final results, that were announcement by the Central Elections Committee this morning. Instead, Gantz admitted last night, in a post-election press conference, that the higher number of mandates won by Netanyahu’s political bloc have most-likely secured the incumbent Prime Minister’s fifth term in office. That said, while the former Israeli general vowed to accept the democratic process, he refused to accept defeat. Gantz said: “Considering the situation of the political blocs, this is the reality. The campaign did not conclude, the dialogue is still ongoing. The President (Reuven Rivlin) still needs to make his decisions, the recommendations and decisions. We will keep talking with the relevant parties. But we are looking back to the reason we came here, and from there to the goal that we aim to serve. We are all democratic. We all accept the decision of the people. We all accept the decision of the President and whatever will materialize from it. It will not move us, however, from the great motivation that we maintain.”
Due to the fact that the ‘Likud’ and ‘Blue and White’ parties each won 35 mandates, their leaders must seek-out the support of the smaller parties, for the purpose of forming a minority coalition.
I will shortly explain Israel’s post-election process, to better understand what is expected to happen in the next several weeks. All parties which pass the Electoral threshold, which is currently 3.25 percent of the total vote-count, must recommend one party leader to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, whom they believe to be the person that should form the next coalition. Once all recommendations are made, President Rivlin will assess the proposed candidates that received the most support, and will choose the person that he believes to have the best chance of forming a stable coalition. If the person tasked with forming the coalition fails to do so – within 28 days and following possible extensions – the task will be transferred to a next potential candidate.
That is why, when most of the Likud’s natural partners from the right-wing-religious bloc publicly declared their intension to recommend Netanyahu to the President, Blue and White is forced to accept defeat. Blue and White Co-Chairman, Yair Lapid, stressed in the post-elections press conference, that they would not consider joining in the incumbent Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu government. Instead, the former Israeli Finance Minister vowed, ‘Blue and White will head the opposition and will make the coalition’s life a living hell.’ In his words: “We are not only going to the opposition; we are going to the Knesset to start the next round. I am declaring from here to the Likud, to Netanyahu, to the coalition, we will make your life bitter. We will demand a state commission of inquiry vis-à-vis the submarine affair, we will not hold back on Netanyahu’s indictment, we will turn the Knesset to a battlefield.”
Lapid also stressed that his faction will spare no effort to prove to the citizens of Israel that they are a viable alternative to the leadership of Netanyahu and his ruling-Likud – while further underscoring that they expect Netanyahu’s government to fall by 2020, after which Blue and White will be ready to step in. According to Gantz: “We will do another thing. We will show the citizens of Israel, how does a true alternative look like. We will show them how their lives could look like with a leadership that cares about them. With a government that doesn’t handout financial benefits to politicians, with a leadership that is not affairs to protect values of the state laws, freedom of worship and protecting the weak. We did not come here to summarize the campaign of 2019. We came here to open the election campaign of 2020.”