Photo Credit: Esti Dziubov / TPS
President Rivlin uniting Netanyahu and Gantz in a three-way handshake at late president Shimon Peres' memorial.

With 99% of the votes counted, including soldiers, the Election Committee posted the (almost) final results of September 2019 elections for the 22nd Knesset.

Left Right Unaffiliated
Blue&White 33
Likud 31
Joint Arab List 13
Shas 9
Liberman – Yisrael Beteinu 8
UTJ 8
Yamina 7
Labor-Gesher 6
Democratic Camp 5
Total 44 55 21

As a result, the Blue&White party confirms its lead with 33 seats over the Likud’s 31, and the Arab parties are fixed at 13 seats, making them the third largest party in the Knesset.

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The blocs remain the same, with the Right maintaining the largest unified bloc of parties, but not the 61 required to form a coalition.

At the same time B&W has a significantly smaller coalition, but can probably count on  Liberman and the Arab party to support them from the outside, at least for as long as it takes to dethrone Netanyahu – forming a “Just Not Bibi” blocking coalition.

President Rivlin has 2 options in front of him, give the first chance to form a coalition government to the largest party – Blue&White, or to the largest coalition bloc – the Right.

In order to bypass the largest-sized party problem, Netanyahu is considering unifying the 3-seat “New Right” faction in Yamina (Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, and Matan Kahane) into the Likud, which would put the Likud at 34 seats, making them the largest party.

This would be a dream come true for Bennett and Shaked, who want to be part of the Likud so they can compete for national leadership, instead of sectoral leadership of the National-Religious sector. Shaked is reportedly weighing the offer.

If accepted, the President would more likely have to give Likud the first opportunity to form a coalition.

Channel 13 revealed the offer that Netanyahu supposedly made to Amir Peretz’s 6-seat Labor-Gesher party to join his coalition: Ministry of Finance + 2 more ministries, increasing the minimum wage to NIS 6000 a month, passing the pension law, free college degree to all discharged IDF soldiers.

Peretz reportedly rejected the dream offer which was made through intermediaries.

After the previous election, Netanyahu made a similar dream offer to former Labor leader Abi Gabay, who rejected it. The Labor party replaced Gabay soon after that.

In the current constellation, unless one or some parties jump ship to the other side, neither side can form a coalition government.

Shas and UTJ have been questioning their rabbinical leadership if they can sit with the anti-religious Lapid of the Yesh-Atid party within Blue&White. This can be in anticipation of a unity government where Blue&White joins their coalition with the Likud, or if they jump ship to the Blue&White side of the ideological divide.

Blue&White has one advantage over Netanyahu in that they create a majority blocking coalition with Liberman and his Arab partners, and begin dismantling Netanyahu’s interim  government piece by piece, starting with Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.

If Israel goes to elections again, which is possible, the mostly likely date would be the end of March.

The committee still has to reexamine 14 voting stations that showed irregularities.

UPDATE: 14 out of 15 voting stations in Yarka, a Druze village in northern Israel, were not yet included in the official count. It is unclear if this will affect the final seat distribution, though it might, in favor of the Likud.

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