Rivlin to begin consulting with parties today Joint List seriously considers Blue and White leader

Pres. Reuven Rivlin has PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz shake hands
President Reuven Rivlin has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz shake hands at memorial ceremony for former president Shimon Peres. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)


The Joint List will make a historic decision as to whether it will recommend Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for prime minister in its meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday.

Rivlin is scheduled to meet with Blue and White, Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu on Sunday, beginning at 5 p.m., to hear their recommendations for who should be the next prime minister. On Monday, Rivlin plans to meet with UTJ, Yamina, Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union. The consultations will be broadcast live online.

In light of the stalemate in election results, by which neither the Right nor the Center-Left has a majority, making a national-unity government appear necessary to avoid a third election, Rivlin’s office said he may invite Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting.

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh shared his list’s considerations in a video in Arabic on Facebook: “Without the weight of the Arab citizens, Netanyahu cannot be defeated… but can we support Gantz without anything in return?”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi described a Saturday meeting of the Joint List’s 13 MKs as “in-depth and serious,” but said no decision was made. The leaders of the four parties making up the list plan to meet on Sunday and choose whether to recommend Gantz or no one at all.

Tibi said the decision will be for the entire faction, and not divided up by parties.

Arab parties have not recommended a candidate for prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, but the Joint List is strongly considering backing Gantz because their votes would likely make the difference for him to receive the first chance to form a government, as opposed to Netanyahu.

Yisrael Beytenu, however, will likely play a far less decisive role in the process. The party called a press conference for 5 p.m. Sunday, three hours before its scheduled meeting with Rivlin. Party leader Avigdor Liberman is expected to announce that he will recommend no one to the president, as neither candidate has acceded to his demands and promised a coalition that would consist only of Blue and White, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu.

Blue and White, plus left-wing parties Labor-Gesher and Democratic Union, make up only 44 seats, whereas the Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc consists of 55 seats. Should Yisrael Beytenu recommend Gantz, Netanyahu would still have more endorsements, but the Joint List’s 13 seats would give Gantz more recommendations than Netanyahu even if Yisrael Beytenu chooses to abstain.

If Yisrael Beytenu were to recommend Netanyahu, then he would have a clear majority, but that scenario seems less likely after the party’s refusal to join a coalition with his haredi partners sparked the second election this year.

By law, Rivlin must consult with all the parties in the Knesset, but can choose any member of Knesset to try to form a government. He must wait until he receives official election results from Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer on Wednesday before announcing his decision, but the President’s Residence said he may consider a further round of consultations.

After Rivlin entrusts an MK with forming the next government, that person will have 28 days to do so, and the president may give the lawmaker an extension of up to 14 days. Should the first candidate fail, a second candidate would have 28 days to build a coalition.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post