Netanyahu on the Ropes Post-Election
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Netanyahu's Likud party won 31 of 120 Knesset seats. He fell well short of enough coalition partner strength for a 61-seat ruling majority.
Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid's Blue and White party won 33 seats. If Joint (Arab) List joins a B & W coalition in return for having its demands met, the bloc will have a 57-seat minority.
Gantz and Lapid would need need Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu's eight seats for a ruling coalition under this scenario.
Another possibility is getting religious fundamentalist Shas party with nine seats and/or its United Torah Judaism counterpart allied with Netanyahu, shifting for B & W to end the current deadlock.
Gantz rejected Netanyahu's call to form what he called "a broad unity government" to avoid an unprecedented third election next year.
Lieberman said he'll only support coalition rule that includes Likud and B & W. Gantz earlier expressed willingness to form a unity government with Likud — without Netanyahu as prime minister, a post he seeks for himself.
"Blue and White is the largest party," he said. "We won 33 seats and Netanyahu did not succeed in winning the 61 seats for his bloc that he sought," adding:
"I will build a broad and liberal government that will deliver the will of the people. We will not surrender to any dictate. The negotiations will be directed by me responsibly and with good judgment."
His co-leader Lapid said there's no trust in Netanyahu, so he is trying to replace the people," adding:
"The people of Likud are starting to realize it's the beginning of the end for (Netanyahu). (He alone) is preventing the formation of a liberal (sic) unity government."
Israeli President Rivlin said "I hear, loud and clear, the voices calling for a broad and stable national unity government," he endorses.
Beginning Sunday, he'll meet with leaders of nine parties winning Knesset seats.
"For my part, I will do everything I can to prevent another general election," he said. "But the responsibility for this, as well as the responsibility for forming a government…is yours – the elected officials, and especially the heads of the two major parties."
Lieberman called Netanyahu's offer to Gantz for Likud/B & W coalition governance a deceptive trick intended to keep him in power months longer ahead of a third election next year.
He urged both figures to form a ruling coalition with his Yisrael Beiteinu party, excluding others winning Knesset seats.
On Friday, Haaretz editors urged Gantz not to "fold by joining Netanyahu."
Facing an early October pre-indictment hearing on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges, he's desperately clinging to power, his only possible escape from prosecution and likely conviction — given damning evidence against him.
Haaretz editors strongly oppose him, wanting new leadership excluding him, saying:
He "should not be part of the state's leadership because of the fatal harm he did to (the country), his attempts to liquidate the gatekeepers, the incitement and instigation he led, and of course the long and detailed charge sheet against him, which casts a dark, criminal shadow over his conduct as prime minister," adding:
"Gantz and his party leaders must not use the vote of no-confidence in Netanyahu, as reflected in the election (results), to form a unity government with him" — giving him a chance to escape long overdue justice.
He's been around a long time on Israel's political scene, succeeding Yitzhak Sharmir as Likud leader in March 1993 — six months before the Oslo Accords he strongly opposed.
He held various posts, including chief of mission at Israel's Washington embassy, its UN envoy, deputy foreign minister, foreign minister, defense minister. finance minister, and other ministerial positions.
First serving as prime minister from June 1996 – July 1999, he was reelected PM in 2009, holding the post since that time, currently seeking his fifth term in office.
If unsuccessful, indictment and prosecution on serious charges awaits him — why he's fighting for his political life and personal freedom.
It's a battle he could lose, but too soon to count him out. With Likud receiving 26% of electorate support, most Israelis want new leadership.
For Palestinians, dirty business as usual follows all Israeli elections, their fundamental rights denied.
Powerless PA prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the difference between Netanyahu and Gantz is like choosing between Pepsi and Coke.
I prefer the death by hanging or firing squad similarity. Either way, oppressive apartheid rule continues.
Neither figure has any intention to end occupation harshness, including continued theft of Palestinian land and dispossession of its rightful owners and residents.
Netanyahu and Gantz both vowed to illegally annex the Jordan Valley, about 30% of the West Bank.
Gantz said "Blue and White have made clear that the Jordan Valley is a part of Israel forever. We are happy that Netanyahu has come around to adopt the Blue and White plan to recognize the Jordan Valley."
In the coming days, weeks, or months, a new Israeli government will be formed. It'll be like all previous ones as far as long-suffering Palestinians are concerned.
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