ANALYSIS: How Israel Could Finally Get a Government

Israel’s political scene remains a mess after recent vote, and a third election this year is a very real possibility

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Election
Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

On Thursday, the final results of the September elections in Israel came in and showed that the Likud party of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had gained one seat giving Likud 32 mandates in the new Knesset.

Blue and White won the repeat elections with 33 seats but its leader Benny Gantz failed to obtain a majority of recommendations for the task of forming a government. Gantz received 54 recommendations while 55 members of the right-wing bloc recommended giving Netanyahu the job.

After consultations with President Reuven Rivlin the President decided to give Blue and White and Likud first the opportunity to hold talks about the forming of a unity government.

Netanyahu and Gantz met on Monday and decided to form negotiation teams which would investigate the possibility of forming a national unity government.

There were a few problems which needed to be solved before progress could have been made in these negotiations.

First of all, Blue and White needed to drop its embargo on Netanyahu, who the party said, before the elections, needed to step down as Likud leader if Likud wanted to form a unity government with the centrist-left party.

Media reported on Wednesday that Likud proposed a rotation agreement for the job of Prime Minister with Netanyahu serving one year as PM and Gantz three years.

Another problem was the agreement between the right-wing parties who wanted to negotiate as one bloc about the forming of a unity government.

Blue and White leaders have made clear they aren’t interested in joining a unity government that includes the religious parties and want to form such a government with Likud only.

It was clear Blue and White had to decide between sitting in a Netanyahu-led government and a new government which includes the religious parties because Likud won’t abandon Netanyahu as long as he’s not indicted on corruption charges.

The hearing about the corruption charges is slated for the beginning of October.

Then there were Blue and White’s demands that the new Israeli government must allow public transportation on Shabbat, civil marriage, mixed prayer at the Western Wall, which is Judaism’s second holy site, and the approval of a Draft Law for ultra-orthodox yeshiva students.

These demands formed a major stumble block for the forming of a Blue and White-Likud unity government even without the religious parties because Likud’s support base consists of a majority of traditional and religious Jews.

Blue and White negotiators said they came to hear Likud’s position and explain their positions in this stage of the negotiation process and will discuss roles and portfolios later.

TV Channel 13 in Israel reported on Wednesday that Gantz has made a far-reaching proposal aimed at softening his party’s opposition to a Netanyahu-led government.

According to the leftist newspaper Ganz already conceded “his right to be the first to try to form a coalition because he prefers to wait for Netanyahu to try first and fail.”

The paper called this a “capitulation without a battle” and claimed that Gantz “threw away the hopes and expectations of his voters.”

After less than two days of negotiations it became clear that Blue and White was obstructing the formation of a unity government with Likud at this point. 

President Rivlin then decided to give Netanyahu the task of forming a government although he made clear he didn’t think it was a solution to the stalemate. 

To sum it up, here are all the possibilities for the continuation of the coalition-building process in decreasing degrees of likelihood.


Most likely: 

  • Blue and White in the end joins Netanyahu in a broad unity government (likely without Liberman).
  • The Labor party joins a Netanyahu-led right-wing government.
  • New elections.



  • Yisrael Beiteinu leader Liberman blinks and joins a Netanyahu-led right-wing government.
  • Blue and White breaks up and Gantz’s party joins a Netanyahu-led right-wing government.
  • Likud pushes out Netanyahu and joins Gantz in a unity government after the scheduled hearing at the beginning of October.


Exceedingly unlikely:

  • Gantz puts together a minority government with Liberman and external Arab support.
  • Gantz puts together a majority coalition with the ultra-orthodox parties and Liberman.
  • Gantz puts together a majority coalition with the Arabs and ultra-orthodox parties.
  • Gantz puts together a majority coalition with the Arabs and Liberman.


Netanyahu has now 28 days, plus an extension of up to 14 days at Rivlin’s discretion, to form a government.

When he fails Rivlin will task Gantz with the task but he has only 28 days without extension.

When Gantz fails the Knesset has 21 days to suggest a third person.

However, that suggestion can only happen if the 61 or more members of Knesset suggest that specific person. It’s hard, however, to see how any person can get the support of 61 or more MK’s but yet not be able to put together a coalition earlier.

When all this fails, elections are automatic, and there’s no need for a new vote to set them.

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