The Joint List recommended Kahol Lavan (Blue & White) leader Benny Gantz for prime minister on Sunday, September 22, seemingly paving the way for the centrist party to get the first crack at assembling a coalition.
This decision marks the first time since 1992 that Hadash and Arab parties — separately or together — have recommended that the President of Israel (who is the authority who must make the decision) assign the task of forming and heading up a government assigned to a mainstream Zionist politician. In 1992, Hadash and the Arab Democratic Party supported the premiership of Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin, who had campaigned on a platform calling for peace with the Palestinians, but did not join the coalition.
The three elected MKs from the Balad faction within the Joint List absented themselves from the meeting with Rivlin, because Balad’s position opposes recommending Gantz, while the 10 MKs from the other three parties that make up the Joint List (Hadash, Ta’al and Ra’am) support the move.
“We have been witness to the most difficult election since 1948 in terms of the incitement against Israel’s Arab citizens,” Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) told President Reuven Rivlin before stating his bloc’s recommendation. “During the era of Netanyahu, we have been made illegitimate in Israeli politics. No one has the power to make us legitimate; we will do this on our own… For us, the most important thing is to remove Benjamin Netanyahu from power.” Odeh summed up: “We therefore recommend that Benny Gantz form the next government.” The Joint List alliance made the announcement at roughly the same time as Odeh published an opinion piece on the New York Times website in which he described the recommendation he was about to make before the president in the name of the Joint List.
Sunday evening the rabble rousing, racist caretaker prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Joint List’s support for Gantz and took to social media in a video statement in which he said: “Citizens of Israel, this has happened just as we warned. The Arab Joint List recommends Benny Gantz for prime minister.” Netanyahu continued: “There are two possibilities now: either a minority government will be formed that relies on those who reject Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state and glorify terrorists that murder our soldiers and citizens, or a broad national government will be formed. I know what the answer is and so do you, and therefore I will do whatever I can to form a broad national unity government. There is no other solution.”