Benny Gantz fails to form coalition, increasing odds of 3rd Israeli election

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz on Wednesday told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin he’s unable to form a new coalition government, increasing the odds of yet another election in the Middle Eastern country.

Blue and White pParty chief Benny Gantz (R) reaches out to shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a state memorial ceremony for Yitzhak and Leah Rabin on November 10. Photo by Heidi Levine

His announcement came after a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday, as a last-ditch effort to come to an agreement before a deadline Wednesday.

The formation of a coalition government appeared to hinge on Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the influential Yisrael Beytenu Party. Liberman was expected to decide whether to support Netanyahu or Gantz, but ultimately determined he couldn’t support a minority government.

Liberman has urged Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Gantz’s Blue and White Party to compromise — and the two leaders attempted to win his support.

Netanyahu was first given the task of forming a coalition by Rivlin after neither party won enough Knesset seats in September to create a majority government. When he failed, Gantz was given the same mandate.

Netanyahu made clear Wednesday he is not interested in any scenario that sees him vacate his current post as leader of Israel.

“Unfortunately, during our meeting last night, Benny Gantz refused to accept the president’s outline that I, as prime minister, will be the first in rotation for the premiership,” he said of a proposal that would make he and Gantz co-prime ministers.

Gantz, meanwhile, has rejected the right-wing-religious bloc built by Netanyahu for his coalition, saying a unity government “cannot be built on a sectoral bloc.”

ByClyde Hughes & Danielle Haynes