Centrist Gantz Gets Green Light to Try to Form Israeli Government
Following consultations with the eight parties making up Israel’s newly elected parliament, President Reuven Rivlin on Monday tasked centrist Benny Gantz with forming a government. Gantz’s Blue and White list garnered fewer votes than did the Likud party of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but a larger number of parliamentarians nonetheless recommended Gantz for prime minister. This was Israel’s third snap election in less than a year, and both Gantz and Netanyahu failed at coalition-building efforts in the previous two outings. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that the Blue and White leader has the support of both the Joint List and the Yisrael Beitenu party. The former is an alliance of lists seen as representing the country’s Arab citizens, while the latter espouses strong right-wing Zionist views. Nevertheless, Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, an avowed secularist and onetime Netanyahu ally, is now a harsh critic of the prime minister over his upcoming corruption trial and the fact that his rightist bloc includes the country’s religious parties. Gantz now has 28 days to form a government.