While the official results of the Israeli election are yet to be published, the work of forming the new coalition government has already started
This morning, Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin started receiving delegations from the different factions that gained seats in the new Knesset in order to learn from them who they recommend that he ask to form the new government. This function is undoubtedly the most important and influential of all the functions that an Israeli president has, since the post of the presidency is largely ceremonial, similar to that of a constitutional monarch. At the time of publication, the two largest factions, Blue and White and Likud have met with the president, each recommending their party leader to form the government.
Mr. Rivlin has inquired of the leaders of the Blue and White party whether they would consider forming a government with their arch-nemesis, the Likud. Such governments are known in Israel as “national unity governments” and are exceedingly rare because they do not express the desires of either party’s voters, except in times of national emergency. Mr. Rivlin expressed his opinion that such a government is what the people of Israel want, though it is unclear what his assessment is based on. In fact, this question was asked in a number of public opinion polls, all of which showed that a roughly 60% majority of Israeli voters oppose the formation of a national unity government. Be it as it may, Blue and White’s refusal to entertain entering into a coalition government with the Likud party made this point moot.
The president has also met with the representatives of two religious parties and one of the Arab factions. The religious parties recommended that he task Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the government, while the Arab faction refrained from making a recommendation, saying that it did not feel like its opinion would carry any weight. To date, 51 members of the Knesset have recommended Netanyahu as the new prime minister, while 35 (those of Blue and White) recommended Benny Gantz. The president is expected to task the person who is recommended by the majority of the Knesset members with forming the new government, a task which that person will be given 45 days to complete.