Will Israel deadlock lead to third election?

Published: Sep 21, 2019, 10:18 IST | Agencies | Jerusalem

Poll results leave neither Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party nor Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White with an obvious path to majorit

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (left), President Reuven Rivlin (centre) and Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, attend a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. Pic/ AFP
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (left), President Reuven Rivlin (centre) and Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, attend a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. Pic/ AFP

Jerusalem: Israeli vote results on Friday confirmed a deadlock in the country's general election and put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party as the second largest, leaving him with a tough battle to extend his long tenure in office.The near-complete official results from Tuesday's election gave ex-military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White alliance the most seats, with 33 out of parliament's 120.

Netanyahu's right-wing Likud won 31 seats, but neither had an obvious path to a majority coalition. In a stark admission on Thursday, Netanyahu acknowledged he was unable to form a right-wing coalition as he hoped and called on Gantz to join him in a unity government instead.Gantz responded by saying he would have to be prime minister in a unity government since Blue and White was the largest party. The standoff has even raised the possibility of yet another election — which would be the third to be held in a year following April polls that also ended inconclusively.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin plans to begin consultations with all parties voted into parliament on Sunday to decide who would be chosen to try to form a government.Major developments were not expected before then, particularly with the Sabbath, or weekly Jewish day of rest, beginning at sundown on Friday. Final results will be published on Wednesday and there could be changes before then, Israel's election committee said. The committee said the results did not include 14 polling stations where verifications were still ongoing.

Israeli media said more than 99 per cent of the votes had been counted. The third-largest total was for the mainly Arab Joint List alliance, which won 13 seats. Its strong showing opened the possibility that its leader Ayman Odeh could become the country's first Arab Opposition chief if Likud and Blue and White form a unity government.A number of analysts attributed the Joint List breakthrough to anger with Netanyahu over actions and rhetoric seen as demonising the country's Arab population helping spur turnout.

Following the Joint List, the country's two main ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, won nine and eight seats respectively. Ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman's nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party also won eight seats, and he could potentially play a kingmaker role.

33
No. of seats Blue and White alliance won

14
No. of polling stations the results haven't included yet

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