Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday won a series of nominations by his fellow lawmakers to form the next government and potentially retain his position.
President Likud became a likely forerunner after Gideon Saar’s ally, New Hope, decided to abstain and not recommend any candidate for prime minister to President Reuven Rivlin, ensuring that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have to get a majority of approval.
Netanyahu received 52 votes, while Yesh Atida leader Yair Lapid had 45 and Yamine boss Naftali Bennett seven.
Netanyahu is supported by his own Likud party (30 votes) and his right-wing electoral bloc, which consists of the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas (9) and Judaism of the United Torah (7) and the Religious Zionist Alliance (6).
Lapida was supported by his own party (17), Blue & White (8), Yisrael Beitenu (7), Labor (7) and Meretz (6).
Bennett was supported by his government which has seven seats in the next Knesset.
The Arab parties Raam (4) and the Joint List (6) joined New Hope (6) by refusing to approve the candidate.
In his first public statement since the March 23 election, Lapid said he had offered Naphtali Bennett to form a government on a rotating basis, with Yamine’s leader being the first to be prime minister.
He called on his potential partners to stand firm against Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to break up their parties in order to obtain the majority he needs.
“[Netanyahu] he has no government, he has no majority, he is respected by extremists. This is a long game, the winner will be the one who is determined enough, patient enough and focused on their goals, ”he said.
“There has never been a fairer political battle and it will only end in our victory.”
Earlier, New Hope representatives asked President Rivlin to reach a power-sharing agreement between Lapid and Bennett.
The president rejected the proposal, calling such a move a “political intervention”.