All 15 members of the Joint Arab List on Sunday recommended Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz to President Reuven Rivlin as their choice for the MK who should be tasked with putting together the next coalition government.
These endorsements included the three representatives from Balad, which opposes the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. The vote was a first for Balad, which never before endorsed a Zionist politician for the job of Prime Minister.
On Sunday afternoon, the president is scheduled to hear from the representatives of Labor, Meretz and Israel Beiteinu, and should they all recommend Gantz as well, then Gantz will have to be the president’s choice.
After recommending Gantz, Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Odeh told President Rivlin: “If Gantz wants to form a unity government, we will be his main opponents. But if he wants to form a center-left government – we recommend Gantz.”
Despite the fact that Gantz could cobble together a government, it would necessarily be a minority government, since the Arabs are not being considered as future coalition members – neither by Gantz nor by themselves. There’s another wrinkle: Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman may not be able to join, because the Arabs have already declared they won’t support a coalition where he is in. And so Gantz is relegated to a coalition with his own 33 members and Labor-Meretz’s 6 (they won 7 seats, but MK Orly Levy-Abekasis refuses to endorse the Blue&White chairman.)
No one believes such a weak-boned coalition would survive in the long haul, and when they face their voters again, the sin of joining forces with the anti-Zionist Arabs would likely usher Blue&White to an early grave. Already, there appear to be ideological splits both at the helm (the 4-leader “cockpit”) and among the rank and file MKs, who were never elected by anyone.
But for now, in the game’s mid-phase, advantage Gantz.