Defence-point.com is presenting for readers a series of observations by noted researcher Gabriel Haritos broadly entitled “The Israeli Parliamentary Elections of September 17, 2019, and the Greek Regional Factor.” These studies will be featured, over the days leading up to the election.
Gabriel Haritos, Ph.D., Researcher, The Ben Gurion Reserach Institute, Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Senior Fellow, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs.
Gantz leaves Netanyahu on hold. The counting of votes continues
The counting of the votes of conscripts, professional military staff, and hospitalized voters who voted at mobile ballot boxes began in the early morning hours of Wednesday. There are about 250,000 such voters in total and their votes represent about 7 parliamentary seats.
Although soldiers and military personnel typically support Likud and other nationalist right-wing parties, this time around, the prognosis seems to be disputed, and Benny Gantz’s center-left “Blue and White” party seems to be securing two seats, significantly changing the balance between Right and Left in the new Knesset. However, it is failing in the effort to reach the “magic number” of 61 seats (out of 120), which would allow Gantz to have the first say in the negotiations for a new government.
In any case, the Left camp includes the Joint Arab List, which will move between 12-13 seats and will be the third party in parliament – but has already said it will not participate in any government that may emerge. This means that even if the ‘Blue and White’ finally leads in seat numbers, it will essentially have to find additional partners to form a coalition government.
While the unofficial results of the ballot boxes on wheels are being reported, Netanyahu has called on Benny Gantz to form a national unity government. This morning a symbolic social event was the occasion for the two political leaders to come face-to-face in a memorial of Simon Peres, the country’s late President. According to the protocol, the memorial was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, who said he would “work with all influence to form a government of national unity, as the people said through their vote that they wanted this solution.”
Benny Gantz and the Blue and White, however, appear to be in no hurry to make decisions now. In a statement, the Blue and White accused Netanyahu of “acting simply for communication purposes” and once the counting of the mobile ballot boxes was completed, only then “will we begin negotiations and talks with the other parties in order to form a national unity government.”
The counting of mobile ballots boxes is expected to finish on Friday and the final official results will be announced. As for the final distribution of seats, it may change slightly. It is recalled that between Lieberman’s party “Yisrael Beitenu” has signed an agreement with “Blue and White” for its surplus votes to be counted in favor of the Blue and White. This means that it is likely that the Blue and White will win an additional seat thanks to Avigdor Lieberman’s surplus votes.
If something is certain: During the coming Friday and Saturday, back-to-back contacts between the political parties will intensify in preparation for the new week – starting Sunday, which is a working day here in Israel.