…by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor
VT called it on election night, that if the United Arab Party did well, it would probably throw their endorsement to Benny Gantz as Prime Minister. But what that would lead to, no one knows at this point.
Arab Party Leader Ayman Odeh’s mandate was to end Netanyahu’s political career, a victory in which all Arabs could share; but they will not be joining Gantz’s coalition, choosing instead to accept their new role as leader of the opposition with its guaranteed privileges, such as face time with world leaders and even security briefings.
Odeh told Israeli President Rivlin, “We want to live in a peaceful place based on ending the occupation, the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, true equality, on the civil and national level, social justice and certainly democracy for all.“
Yes, even if Bibi gets thrown over, it will be bittersweet for the Arabs, as Gantz is not expected to bring with him any major changes in the majority Jewish rule situation in Israel, or in Gaza or West Bank chaos. The Deal of the Century is still breathing.
Gantz has overseen a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Arab United party wears no rose-colored glasses. Their stance was a pragmatic one. They wanted Netanyahu gone, and hence are solid allies with Gantz on that one issue; but on what else, it remains to be see.
Rivlin gave no indication who he would pick as a first choice to form a government. But the situation will put a lot of pressure on Bibi to step aside, or even to negotiate a promise of a pardon on his legal issues which, if he does not get, he could throw another election out on the table.
Netanyahu, who had referred to the Joint Arab Party as “the enemy” said, “As we warned, the Arab parties that oppose Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and glorify terrorists recommended Gantz for prime minister.”
President Rivlin weighed in saying that there cannot be a stable government without the big parties, and Bibi said he would not join a coalition with the Arab Party. Gantz has said no deal to anything that leaves Bibi standing, so we still have a classic cliff-hanger, even though the election is over. Welcome to Parliamentary politics … Jim W. Dean ]