Israel Appears Headed to Fourth Round of Elections; Finger-pointing Underway
The additional 48-hours Israeli president Reuven Rivlin extended to challenger Benny Gantz based on assurances that his Blue and White party and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s incumbent Likud were on the verge of signing a unity deal came and went. In its wake lies a fourth election in the bizarre marathon that began last year with three indecisive outcomes. Again, it appears that there are more roadblocks than voters, this time the obstacle being the ability of Likud to appoint judges. Rivlin returned the mandate to form a government to Gantz in his role a speaker of the parliament. Any member who is able to garner 61 votes over the next three weeks can now try to form a coalition, but with that unlikely, the unprecedented fourth round looms large. Since it is widely accepted that the populace is fed up with the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the election, both candidates and their parties are striving to paint their respective opponents as being responsible for the stalemate. Meanwhile, a new poll released by Channel 12 television shows the most lopsided result yet, with Netanyahu’s Likud taking 40 seats to Gantz’s Blue and White 19. Even if Gantz’s former partners throw in their 10 seats, it would remain strongly in Netanyahu’s favor rather than another tie – hence offering a putative theory to explain Netanyahu’s apparent retreat from the “almost agreement” with Gantz of a day ago.