Israelis vote Tuesday but will wait weeks for their new prime minister

The complex Israeli post-election process means that when polling stations close, there could still be uncertainty over who the next prime minister will be.

By World Israel News Staff 

Israelis go the polls on Tuesday to elect a new parliament with the hope that either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or challenger MK Benny Gantz can form a new governing majority in the weeks to come.

In an unprecedented development, Israel is holding a second Knesset election within a matter of months, after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a majority following the April 9 ballot.

The Netanyahu-led Likud party, and Blue and White, headed by Gantz, finished tied with 35 seats each in the April ballot.

Netanyahu was given the nod by the president, a ceremonial position in Israel, to get the first crack at forming a government coalition because parties representing a majority of the new parliament recommended the incumbent premier to President Reuven Rivlin in consultations which took place in the immediate aftermath of April’s election.

However, one of those parties, MK Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu, ultimately refused to join a Netanyahu-led government.

Then, instead of allowing the president to hand the baton to Gantz to try to form a government, Netanyahu quickly legislated a new election which set September 17 as the date for an encore ballot.

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The complex Israeli post-election process means that when polling stations close at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, there could still be uncertainty over who the next prime minister will be.

Public opinion polls have shown the Likud and Blue and White running neck-and-neck again.

Liberman has been pushing for Netanyahu and Gantz to join forces in forming a unity government to establish a more stable majority and give less power to smaller political factions.

A stumbling block toward setting up such a coalition is that Blue and White has spoken out against cooperating with Netanyahu because of pending indictments against the prime minister in three alleged corruption cases.

The process of forming a government entails negotiations between the potential ruling party and other factions on drafting policy guidelines in a way that is broad enough so that there is no contradiction between the separate agreements with each of the factions.

As a result, it could be several weeks, even a couple of months or so, before a new Israeli government is established.