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Netanyahu calls on Gantz to form a unity government in Israel

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called on his main rival, Benny Gantz, to form a unity government, after the results of Tuesday’s general election showed a close rapprochement between them, one of which could not form a government coalition.

Netanyahu said in a photographer’s statement that he favored “forming a right-wing coalition, but the election results showed that this is not possible,” stressing that “people will not have to choose between the two blocs.”

Netanyahu’s call is a major development after Tuesday’s general election and may not allow him to stay on as prime minister for 13 years.

“I called during the elections to form a right-wing government,” Netanyahu said. “But unfortunately, the election results showed that this is not possible.”

“I called on Gantz today to form a broad unity government.”

Gantz has yet to respond to Netanyahu’s invitation, but they shook hands at a memorial service for former President Shimon Peres.

Gantz, a former chief of staff, has repeatedly called for a unity government.

It is unclear whether Gantz would accept a unity government with Netanyahu, who faces possible corruption charges in the coming weeks if he remains prime minister.

Gantz, who stepped up his challenge to Netanyahu without any previous political experience, is due to speak to reporters on Thursday afternoon.

– Second elections this year.

By declaring his intention to form a unity government, Netanyahu seeks to avoid his overthrow.

But Gantz’s centrist White Blue alliance has in the past called on members of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party to abandon the latter and form a unity government without him.

But none of the Likud members seems ready to do so.

Gantz did not demand in his speech that followed the closure of the ballot boxes on Tuesday.

Although no official election results have been announced, and with 97 percent of the vote counted, Israeli media reports indicate a blue-white coalition has 33 seats in the parliament and 31 seats in the Likud out of 120.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who appeared in the last election as a “kingmaker,” also showed the results announced by his party Yisrael Beiteinu with eight seats.

Arab parties, united in Tuesday’s election, emerged as a “joint list” as an important force, and announced results showed they won 13 seats to become the third force in parliament.

The result could allow Arab parties to prevent Netanyahu from continuing if she decides to back Gantz.

But the Arab parties have never supported anyone as prime minister.

After the announcement of the final results, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will consult with all parties represented in parliament to entrust someone to try to form a government.

Netanyahu suffered the biggest defeats in his political life after the April elections.

Likud, along with its right-wing and religious allies, won a majority, but the outgoing prime minister failed to form a coalition and favored a second election rather than risk that the Israeli president choose someone else to try to form the coalition.

Tuesday’s election is Israel’s second in five months.

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