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Netanyahu given green light to form ruling majority

As Metro Voice returned from Israel on Tuesday with 32 tour guests, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the opportunity to form a new government.

The country has been in suspense for nine days since the Sept. 17 elections left no clear winner. Under the country’s political system, parties run – not individuals – and the winning party must either have a clear majority or seek to form a majority with other smaller parties. Then the head of that party becomes Prime Minister.

Israel’s leaders were trying to form that unity government after its second election in 6 months. Prime Minister Netanyahu had proposed uniting with top rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party, but negotiations broke down.

The Blue and White Party had sought a coloration with the Arab party which has not declared its loyalty to the nation. If they had formed a majority, those Arab Knesset members would have had access to the nation’s classified security information, possibly compromising Israel’s security as it battles extremists in Gaza and the West Bank as well as Iran and Lebanon.

In the final voting, Netanyahu’s Likud Party picked up one seat for a final tally of 32 seats to Blue and White’s 33.

Metro Voice had been following the tight election for any signs of progress between the two main parties.

Netanyahu has allies among the more religious political parties who want a broad unity government that includes them.

Gantz reportedly wanted to work with Netanyahu in the short term but his secular party members didn’t want involvement from religious parties.

Right now, Israelis are gearing up for the Jewish New Year holiday Rosh Hashanah. The green light for Netanyahu will bring some calm to the nation’s voters – which include Jewish, Arab, Christian and Druze citizens – and allow a focus on the holiday.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services