Chairman of the Joint List Ayman Odeh said in a statement late Wednesday, November 20, that the chances of a third round of elections in Israel are very good, but stressed that the Joint List with its four component parties is united and ready for that possibility. Odeh made his statement as Blue & White head, Benny Gantz announced that he is returning his mandate to the president, after he failed to obtain a majority of MKs to form a government in Israel.
Gantz’s announcement came ahead of the midnight deadline that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, had set for him following a similar failed attempt by Netanyahu to build an coalition. In his remarks, Gantz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “leading [Israel] down a dangerous path that will have a high, historic price, and for which you are responsible.”
Gantz’s failure was in large part due to the “principled” position of Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman who said Wednesday that he refuses to join a minority government, presumably backed by the Joint List, which he described as a “fifth column.” At he same time he refuses to join a narrow government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu whom Lieberman blames for making the Likud hostage to the ultra-Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Zionists.
Lieberman announced that he would wait for developments in the next 21 days, the time now allocated for any MK to attempt to build a majority coalition, to see if there would be a possibility of a “liberal” (read “anti-clerical”) unity government. At his press conference, Lieberman outlined his extreme right-wing position towards the Joint List, as well as on the occupation, and implicitly emphasized his adherence to the occupation and settlements. It can be understood from Lieberman’s statements that, if the Likud continues to hold onto its alliance with the ultra-Orthodox, the likelihood is for a third round of elections that may be held in the second week of March 2020.
Odeh, addressing Lieberman’s remarks, which the latter weighs as a probability of 70% that Israel will head to a third round of elections in less than a year, the Joint List leader declared “We are ready for elections and we can get 15 seats.”
Odeh stressed that there is overall satisfaction with the work of the Joint List, and the general consensus regarding its importance because of its remarkable daily presence in the media. “The performance of the Joint List in the recent elections and subsequently has thus far has been very good. We have led a popular struggle against violence and crime until this issue has become central in Israel, and we will continue with courage as has been promised by our people.”
“Politically, we have been central for the past two months, because we have taken national and tactical positions that have made our presence outstanding,” said Odeh.