Blue & White party accused of conspiring with Arab List to ensure Netanyahu gets mandate first and fails

If all 13 MKs of the Joint List had recommended Gantz, the Blue and White leader would have wound up with two more endorsements than Netanyahu.

By World Israel News Staff

President Reuven Rivlin’s decision to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government may have been influenced by a political tactic used by the Blue and White faction.

MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, a faction of four non-Zionist predominantly Arab parliamentarians, said in a Facebook live video that he had been contacted by Blue and White MK  Ofer Shelah after the September 17 Knesset election. By virtue of winning 13 seats in the vote, Joint List is the third-largest faction in the incoming Knesset, following Blue and White and Likud.

According to Odeh, Shelah asked him to allow only ten members of the faction to endorse Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for the prime ministerial nomination when they met with Rivlin.

The Joint List leader charges that Shelah made the request to ensure that Gantz does not receive the majority of recommendations, among the 120 members of parliament, in a bid to influence the president to give Netanyahu the mandate of forming a government first.

Israeli media had reported that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz seemingly wanted to be picked first, because each felt that the candidate who gets the first crack to form a coalition would fail but the second would have a better chance of building a majority, partly because time would be running out before a third election would need to be called, putting pressure on all parties to come to the table and compromise.

Interviewed by IDF Radio on Thursday, Shelah said that he did not determine for the Joint List what recommendation to make. Ultimately, however, the three MKs of Balad, one of the Joint List parties, did not support the recommendation for Gantz.

The move had been viewed as a sign by Balad, widely considered in Israel as the most extreme of the non-Zionist Arab parties, that it wished to continue the practice among these parties not to recommend any candidate because it could be viewed as recognition of Israel as the Jewish State.

Balad advocates erasing the Jewish identity of the State of Israel in favor of a “state of all its citizens.”

Israel’s Central Elections Committee twice banned Balad from participating in Knesset elections. Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the rulings, most recently this year. Balad’s founder, Azmi Bishara, was charged with treason and supporting terror and fled Israel in 2007.

Netanyahu received 55 recommendations for the post of prime minister compared to 54 for Gantz. Had all 13 MKs from the Joint List recommended Gantz, the Blue and White leader would have wound up with two more endorsements than the incumbent prime minister.