Here’s what we know about the Israeli election results that put Benjamin Netanyahu’s future in doubt – Washington Examiner
Benjamin Netanyahu’s days as prime minister of Israel may be numbered. Or he may find some path to remain in power. But the morning after Israel’s second election this year, the inconclusive results are creating many possible outcomes in the complex parliamentary system, with few experts willing to wager a guess as to how it may all turn out.
With 91% of the vote counted, there are likely to be some shifts, but it’s almost certain at this point that neither Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc nor Benny Gantz’s liberal bloc will be able to form a government without Avigdor Liberman. But the ideologically right-wing Liberman — who prevented Netanyahu from forming a government after his apparent April victory over clashes with ultra-Orthodox parties — says he would only be a part of a unity government that joins the two largest parties: Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White. Any narrow-majority unity government could be fragile and fall if one smaller party leaves. Liberman is insisting on using his power to force the creation of a more stable government.
Here’s how the current math works. It takes 61 seats to form a government, or a majority in Israel’s 120 member Knesset. As of this writing, Blue and White has 32 seats to Likud’s 31, and the left-wing coalition has 56 to 55 for Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc. That means Liberman, with an improved nine seats, has the ability to prevent either side from forming a government.
Absent a unity government, any government would be highly fragile, with the defection of any party having the ability to force yet another election. The right-wing Liberman would be an odd fit for a government that included far-left and Arab parties. Yet he already forced a redo election by refusing to join a Netanyahu government in which ultra-Orthodox parties would be able to block efforts to increase military enlistment among their religious communities.
In contrast, a government that included Likud, Blue and White, and Liberman, would have over 70 seats. However, the complicating factors in Netanyahu and Gantz simply joining forces is that Blue and White campaigned on a pledge not to join any government with Netanyahu at the helm, which helped them mobilize the anti-Netanyahu vote. In theory, that may mean that were Netanyahu to step aside, they could form a government with a different Likud member as PM. However, all Likud candidates pledged to support Netanyahu as their prime minister, and Netanyahu tried to drive turnout by portraying Gantz as a leftist, and warning it would be dangerous to put him in charge. Just as Blue and White voters would not be happy if Gantz ended up keeping Netanyahu at the top of government, Likud voters wouldn’t be excited about having to cut a deal with Gantz.
To be sure, none of these pledges are legally binding and deals could be cut. But complicating factors further is that Netanyahu is facing indictment for corruption, and has been pushing for adoption of a highly-controversial law that would make him immune for prosecution.
As of now, there are too many scenarios for anybody to state with confidence how this will all play out.