It took 24 hrs for PM Netanyahu to do the math, before he went from predicting a “right-wing Zionist” government to a National Unity Government (NUG). That’s because he cannot form such a right-wing government without the 9 votes of Yisrael Beitanu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman, who has ruled out joining a coalition that includes the religious parties (Shas and UTJ). Now all three parties, Yisrael Beitanu, Likud and Blue and White have called for a NUG. But, its not that easy.
Benny Gantz of B&W wants a Union with Likud, but only without Bibi as its head. Bibi wants to be PM first in any rotation, but wants the B&W to split into its component parts,. excluding the liberal party of Yair Lapid, and only wants to form a NUG with Gantz. And Lieberman will no doubt insist on his haredi IDF conscription bill as a condition to join a NUG. So now the coalition negotiations start.
The Arab Joint List scored a great victory, getting 12 seats. The thought is that this resulted from the prediction by Netanyahu that the Arabs will vote “in droves” in order to activate his base. But, instead it activated the Arabs. Now the Arab Joint List is the third largest party in the Knesset and its leader Ayman Odeh may become the leader of the Opposition for the first time. How’s that for a clear repudiation of the so-called apartheid label ridiculously applied to Israel!
The Knesset this time contains only 9 parties, which is less than previously due to the higher threshold for inclusion (3.25%). Both the far right and the far left suffered in losses of smaller parties. It should be easier for three of these parties to unite in a NUG, but let’s see what comes out of this process. For sure, no-one wants a third election!