President Rivlin Tasked With Endorsing Next Prime Minister
On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, Israelis went to the polls for the second time in six months to elect their prime minister and government. In order to form a government, a party or a coalition of parties needs to hold 61 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The Blue and White party, Kahol Lavan, led by Benjamin “Benny” Gantz, former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, won 33 seats. The primary challenging party, Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, won 31 seats. Both are far from the 61-seat majority needed to choose the next prime minister. Now, President Rivlin must consult with the nine party leaders to determine who will be granted permission to try to form a coalition government. After this consultation, President Rivlin will name a new prime minister who will be tasked with forming a government. According to analysts, Kahol Lavan, who received massive support from central Israel and Haifa, can form a left block with 57 seats. Likud can form a right block with 54 seats with support from Israel’s south, northern villages, and Jerusalem. The prime minister will have 28 days to form a coalition, with one two-week extension possible.
Israeli Arab Joint List Sees Unprecedented Election Results
The Joint List, a group of Arab Israeli parties who formed and ran as one bloc, earned an unprecedented thirteen seats in the Knesset. Arabs make up one fifth of the Israeli population, and responded to Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Arab pre-election comments, including a statement by his party indicating that Likud had installed facial recognition cameras in their voting stations to prevent potential voter fraud. Although this claim turned out to be inaccurate, Arab voter turnout soared to 59 percent, as compared to April’s record low Arab voter turnout of 49 percent. For the first time in Israeli history, an Arab Knesset member could become Israel’s opposition leader, a post that comes with a security detail, briefings from the Mossad, meetings with all visiting international leaders, and rebuttals to the prime minister on the Knesset floor.