Israel's final election results hand Netanyahu one seat boost

The two biggest parties are in the process of trying to negotiate a unity coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, at a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres. AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, at a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres. AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was handed a boost on Wednesday when the final results from last week's election were released, handing him an extra seat.

While it did not change the deadlock that the country faces, it added a little more weight to his claim to lead any majority coalition that will be formed after discussions with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

The final results from the September 17 vote gave the right-wing Likud party 32 seats compared to Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White's 33 in the 120-seat parliament.

The two parties are in the process of trying to negotiate a unity coalition, and Mr Rivlin has one week to name someone to form a government.

Likud's additional seat came at the expense of one of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, United Torah Judaism, which now has seven.

Israel's Arab parties, running together under the Joint List alliance, finished as the third-largest force in parliament with 13 seats.

Mr Netanyahu has received the endorsement of 55 parliament members to be prime minister, while Mr Gantz has received 54.

Neither has a clear path to a majority coalition.

Mr Rivlin, who will formally receive the results later Wednesday, has leaned heavily on Mr Gantz and Mr Netanyahu to work out a unity coalition between them, including in a joint meeting on Monday.

Rivlin is due to host the two for a follow-up meeting on Wednesday night.

A rotation arrangement has been floated, but the question of who would be premier first remains a major stumbling block.

The timing is especially important for Netanyahu, who is facing possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead pending a hearing set for early October.

A prime minister does not have to step down if indicted - only if convicted with all appeals exhausted - while other ministers can be forced to do so when charged.

Published: September 25, 2019 12:46 PM

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