Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Early Result of Israel's Re-do (Update 9/19/19)

As the final votes are tallied today, the situation in Israel has cleared up a bit.  Here are the early takeaways.  President Rivlin needs to appoint one of the largest parties to attempt to form a 61 seat coalition from the following results.

The Anti-Netanyahu Camp (44 + 13 = 57):
33 Seats: Kachol v'Lavan, the Centrist/Left (Ganz)
6 Seats: Avodah/Gesher, (Peretz)
5 Seats: The Democratic Camp, (Barak)

The Netanyahu Camp (55):
31 Seats: Likud, the Center/Right (Netanyahu)
9 Seats: Shas, (Deri)
8 Seats: United Torah Judaism, (Litzman/Gafni)
7 Seats: Yemina, (Shaked)


13 Seats: Joint List (4 Arab parties together).  Will vote anti-Netanyahu.
8 Seats: Yisrael Beitenu, (Lieberman) - The wild card.
Zero Seats: Otzma (Kahanist).  Was polling well in the last week but did not pass the threshold for representation in the Kenesset.

Summary:  The largest party is Kachol/Lavan.  Neither Ganz nor Netanyahu have a governing majority.  If the Joint List "supports" Ganz, he can form what is called a minority government.  That occurs when enough parties vote to form the government, but less than a majority actually serves in the government.  Would Lieberman join a Left-wing minority government of 57 members of kenesset that is dependent upon the Joint List's 13 votes from Arab support?  Unlikely.  Will Shas, UTJ and Lieberman come to an agreement on the drafting of the haredim into the army?  Unlikely.  So, the same stalement that was reached in April has been reached today.  Lieberman is pushing for Kahol Lavan and Likkud to form a centrist government, with him (though they wouldn't need him). 

What are the subtle differences since April and do they matter?

Group                April Election     Sept. Election       Last Kenesset

the "right"             60 seats                 55 seats           61 seats
the "left"                45 seats                44 seats           41 seats
the "Arabs"           10 seats                 13 seats           13 seats
Lieberman               5 seats                   8 seats            5 seats

So, in the last Kenesset, the right with Lieberman has 65 seats (one Likud member had defected).  That was affirmed in the April election.  Compared to April, the "right" lost 5 seats.  4 of them to Lieberman, and 1 to the math of the proportional distribution of seats in the election.  So, when the news says that Netanyahu lost from April to September, that is correct.  But his position is largely unchanged.  TOTAL: The right is down 6 from the last Kenesset.  Lieberman is plus 3.

On the Left, in April they went up to 45 seats from the previous Kenesset's 41 seats.  The Arab parties ran separately, and as a whole lost 3 seats.  So the Left's 54 with the Arabs in the Kenesset became 55 seats in the April election. In the September election, the left went back to 44, and the Arabs regained their original 13.  So, the left has gained 3 seats from the last Kenesset.  Therefore, it is correct to say that they improved, but they as a whole did not "win."


1) Rivlin gives Neyanyahu the mandate to form a government.  He can form a unity government with Ganz, or we are right back where we were in April, and there will probably be a third election.
2) Rivlin gives Ganz the mandate to form a government.  He can form a minority government with Lieberman with the support of the Arabs, or he can form a unity government.  Mathmatically he could form a majority government with the Arab parties, but as a former head of the Army he is not trusted by them and this is highly unlikely.

UPDATE SEPT 19, 2019 8:40 A.M.  Overnight both Netanyahu and Ganz, with the affirmation of President Rivlin, have called for a Unity Government.  This does not mean that it will happen.  Netanyahu wants his old allies, the UTJ, Shas, Yeminah in the government with him - which would both include cabinet ministries and a powerful voting bloc in case of conflicts.  Ganz, of course, does not want that - and does not need it once Kahol Lavan and Likud are cooperating with their combined 64 seats.

And, of course, they disagree about who should be the Prime Minister in such a government.  You may recall that Ganz had an agreement with his own partners in Kahol Lavan that 3 of them would rotate the prime ministership over the course of their elected term.

What would Shimon Perez say to the center left letting Netanyahu leading the unity coalition?  "Over my dead body."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz shake hands at a memorial service for Shimon Peres, September 19, 2019.

Netanyahu, in classic body language, seeks to co-opt and control Ganz in a unity government.


  1. It needs to be said that this election proves that no Jew can any longer point to another and say: to support Netanyahu equals supporting Israel and therefore the converse means "disloyalty." Clearly now, if Israeli Jews have the right to be politically divided (as they certainly are) and yet "support Israel", then so do American Jews. Which of course means that our own president's comments about what constitutes "Loyal" Jews needs to be re-examined.

  2. It is official: a short while ago President Rivlin tapped Netanyahu to try to form the coalition first. Ganz will not enter a unity government where Netanyahu service as PM. Lieberman will not serve with the haredim. Ganz, btw, did not want to go first, preferring to have Netanyahu fail again. So, it looks like a third election.

  3. BTW, 3 of the 13 Arab list votes, from the Balad party, refused to support Ganz, so the "left" had 54 seats and the "right" had 55 seats. Rivlin was absolutely correct to allow Netanyahu first shot at it.