The “optimism” regarding Benny Gantz’s prospects for forming a government, expressed by members of his Blue and White party and by the leftist media, is based on the same kind of wishful thinking that fueled hopes for “peace now.”
Simple math shows that Gantz can’t form a stable government of 61 MKs. Blue and White has 33, Labor-Gesher has 6 and Democratic Union (the former Meretz) has 5. That’s 44.
Even if Avigdor Liberman changes his mind about refusing to join anything but a “liberal” national unity government, his 8 seats net Gantz a grand total of 52 – nowhere near 61.
But there is the possibility of a minority government. He would need more MKs to vote for his government than against it (in the last election, Netanyahu had 60 MKs for a coalition, but that wasn’t more than the 60 who opposed it).
How could he achieve that, considering that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has a right-wing coalition of 55? By getting the 13 Arab MKs to support him from the outside; that means voting for the coalition, but not joining it, so as not to have to share in collective responsibility.
In that scenario, even if Liberman sticks to his guns, Gantz will have 57 votes for his coalition, against Netanyahu’s 55.
There are so many problems with this strategy that it’s hard to know where to start. First, there are those in Blue and White who are right-wingers, people like Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, not to mention Moshe Yaalon, who would have a hard time with the idea of relying on Arab votes to form a government. They might be able to justify it by claiming that it was a vital national interest to avoid a third round of elections, but that’s far-fetched.
Second, three MKs on the United Arab List, those belonging to Balad, have said they won’t support the government, not even from the outside, leaving Gantz with just 54.
Third, while Israel has had minority governments, no coalition has ever started out that way. Considering the difficult decisions facing the next government, vis-à-vis the budget and possible military action in Gaza and Lebanon, it’s extremely unlikely that a government depending on the support of former Arafat confidant Ahmed Tibi will last for long.
Gantz may be hoping that if he can get a government up and running, and if Netanyahu is indicted for bribery, he’ll be able to shake loose enough Likud members to join him.
As of now, none of these options is even remotely realistic.
Amit Segal, the highly respected journalist, released a survey of his 50,000 or so followers who were asked how they see things playing out. More than 40% thought Israel is headed toward a third election, which, as of now, appears to be the most realistic option.
As bad as that would be for the economy and the security situation, it could have one desired effect.
According to a poll by Panels Ltd., Liberman will lose half of his support the next time around, putting him at the electoral threshold and raising hopes that we could be rid of him once and for all.
That would be the silver lining to a very dark cloud.