Day One of Picking Israel’s New Prime Minister

April 16, 2019

by: Edgar Asher

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Israeli President Rivlin has been meeting with the heads of Israel’s political parties to hear their recommendations for the next prime minister.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 | President Reuven Rivlin began consultations [Monday] with various political parties to evaluate who might be able to form a new government.

At the beginning of the meeting with Likud [current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political party], the president thanked the members of the

Central Elections Committee and its head, Judge Hanan Melcer, for their hard and dedicated work and welcomed the Likud representatives, saying: “I said some time ago, and I repeat now, all my life I was taught that in the State of Israel the president does not select the prime minister, nor does any other citizen. It is the citizens themselves who choose the prime minister.”

The president pointed out that the consultations he was holding reflected the will of the voters. “These consultations reflect the will of Israel’s citizens as they are expressed in the results of the elections. You are the largest of the factions elected to the Knesset [Parliament], and so you are first to come here to the Presidential Residence.”

The president continued, “It is a great honor to welcome you as the first party, which won more votes than any other party in this election and [I] would like to hear your views and who you would like to recommend [to form] the next government. It is hard to imagine I will be surprised: I have some idea of who you will recommend, but you are the ones who will make the recommendation.”

At the conclusion of their meeting, Likud recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be entrusted with the formation of Israel’s next government.

The next to meet with the president was the Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) party.

They recommended former IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to form the 35th government. The president said to MK [Member of Knesset]-elect Gabi Ashkenazi: “Many Israelis are looking for greater closeness. I won’t say unity, because that has a political meaning. But many people want to see us as we have seen ourselves over the last 70 years, together with a single fate and a single goal—the good of the State of Israel. When we face such important challenges in the diplomatic, security, economic and social spheres, when we face critical questions regarding the gaps in Israeli society, all of you know how much sensitivity is required in handling them and that each of us plays his or her part. My question is—if you were invited to join a government headed by someone whom you have not recommended, and if this offer were made with no preconditions, would you consider it?”

Responding on behalf of his faction, Ashkenazi said, “As you know, Mr. President, we come from serving the state. You spoke about working together. We gave service to the state, never checking what was under the soldier’s helmet. It is no surprise to us that you are asking this question, and we have asked it ourselves. Such issues require serious consideration. Without being dismissive, we do not think that the current political circumstances allow us to serve in the government you suggest. I think that in these circumstances, given that reality, we cannot be part of a government of that kind. Of course, you will find us partners in moves that serve the people of Israel. You can rely on Kachol Lavan to continue to do that. We will all work to bring people together against polarization in our society, but in the current circumstances it will be clear that we cannot sit in that government.”

Next, members of the Shas [ultra-Orthodox political party] faction met with the president. MKs and faction manager Haim Bitton recommended MK Benjamin Netanyahu form the next government. This was also the position of the United Torah Judaism faction.

Finally, members of the Hadash-Ta’al faction met with the president [and] requested not to recommend any MK to form the next government.

At the end of the first day of consultations, 51 members of the next Knesset had recommended that [current] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be entrusted with forming the next government, while 35 had recommended that Benny Gantz of Kachol Lavan be given the task. Six members of the 21st Knesset requested not to recommend any MK.

Posted on April 16, 2019

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ashernet on April 15, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Mark Neyman/GPO