Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel president to start consultations Sunday on next PM

Israel president to start consultations Sunday on next PM

To be sure, his 10-year rule has massively accelerated Israel's embrace of authoritarian leaders around the world, a surging intelligence industry boosting autocrats and bringing far-right extremists into the heart of the Israeli state, some of whom openly support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

With Israeli media reporting 99 percent of votes counted in Tuesday's election, a Likud-led right-wing, religious bloc looked poised to control 55 of parliament's 120 seats, with up to 57 going to a centre-left alliance.

The president plans to hold meetings with each of the parties who received enough votes to enter the Knesset to hear their recommendations on the matter. And that means the last chapter of the Netanyahu era is about to unfold.

In a video message, the Israeli prime minister conceded there was no way he would be able to form a right-wing government after the second general election of the year ended in deadlock. The pair rotated the top office between 1984 and 1988.

The Jerusalem Post reports that during a memorial service for Simon Peres, Netanyahu said: "Let's cooperate like Peres and [former prime minister Yitzhak] Shamir".

No single Israeli party has ever won an outright majority in the legislature, a reflection of the country's political, religious and ethnic divisions.

The committee stressed that the votes were not yet the final results, which will be handed to President Reuven Rivlin on September 25. Just prior to Gantz's public rejection, a senior Blue and White leader described Netanyahu's offer as "a cynical ploy". Netanyahu replied that he was "surprised and disappointed" by the response from Gantz's team.

Responding to Netanyahu's call for a unity government, he said: "You don't approach establishing a unity government with blocs and spins". He reaped the reward by boosting his party's number of seats.

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"Yesterday, I met with right-wing party leaders and we agreed that we would go into this coalition negotiations as one bloc", said Netanyahu in his statement. He may do a deal to prop up Netanyahu.

Netanyahu's call for a broad government preceded a scheduled visit later on Thursday by outgoing US envoy Jason Greenblatt, an architect of President Donald Trump's as-yet unveiled plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

He is expected to decide whether to lay formal charges by the end of 2019.

It bothers me that an ally that's that close and important to us would do that to us. He denies wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a witch-hunt. Netanyahu and his allies have enthusiastically joined in. But that scenario is likely to cause a public outcry, and now appears remote. A formal indictment would increase the pressure on Netanyahu to step aside if he does not have immunity.

That could be a far cry from the secular unity authorities Mr Gantz campaigned for in the course of the election.

The nominee, who does not necessarily have to be the head of the largest party, has up to 42 days to form a government. The law was backed by Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox supporters, and when Netanyahu 65 seats in the April elections, it seemed his political future was secure.

It could take weeks. "This is an unprecedented situation, because neither Mr. Netanyahu has a majority of 61 nor does Mr. Gantz". Israel has had several such unity governments, including a period in the 1980s when rivals Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir shared power.

Netanyahu had announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinians seek statehood. "Gantz is very open to national unity but on different terms".

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