Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Benjamin Netanyahu and Gideon Sa'ar, who denied planning to replace him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the day negotiating with the heads of right-wing parties, and if all goes well, planned Wednesday evening to announce a bloc of 55 MK was authorizing him as their sole representative to negotiate for a coalition, according to Israel’s Channel 12 television news reporter Amit Segal.

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The factions convened at the office of the prime minister Wednesday afternoon to decide to establish the right wing bloc that will work towards the establishment of the next government.

A joint coalition negotiation team is to be formed by all the factions in the bloc, which can be likened to the “Israeli Republican party,” as one local analyst put it in southern Israel. “Anyone who joins will have to join [Netanyahu’s] bloc and not the other way around,” he said.

The heads of the various right-wing parties at the meeting all made commitments to recommend Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government.

Among those participating in the meeting were Minister Yariv Levin, Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman, Moshe Gafni, Naftali Bennett, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Ayelet Shaked and Betzalel Smotrich.

Minister Aryeh Deri was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior obligation, attending a memorial ceremony for the late Minister David Azoulay.

With 90.4 percent of Tuesday’s votes counted by 12:53 pm on Wednesday (4,034,847, or 63.10 percent), the official results according to the CEC stood as follows, with mandate count quoted from Israel’s Channel 13 television news.
(32) Blue and White: 25.66 %
(31) Likud: 25.03%
(13) Joint Arab List: 10.71 %
( 9 ) Shas: 7.56%
( 9 ) Yisrael Beytenu: 7.11%
( 8 ) United Torah Judaism: 6.25%
( 7 ) Yamina: 5.73%
( 6 ) Labor-Gesher: 4.81%
( 5 ) Democratic Union: 4.30%
Otzma Yehudit: 1.87% (did not pass electoral threshold of 3.25%)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman is continuing to reiterate that a unity government is the “only option” after Tuesday’s elections. He told reporters he will not begin coalition negotiations will any party unless it accepts his list of demands for secularist party changes. He added, however, that he would not waste time haggling, and assured reporters that he would “not allow” a third round of elections.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.