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MIDDLE EAST | Israel: Arab Parties Emerge as Key Brokers in Forming New Gov't

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, gestures as he hands out pamphlets during an an election campaign event in Tira, northern Israel Sept. 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, gestures as he hands out pamphlets during an an election campaign event in Tira, northern Israel Sept. 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters
The Arab Joint List, an alliance of Palestinian-Israeli parties, met Sunday to discuss whom to recommend as the country's new prime minister of Israel to be in charge of forming the government. They said Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party has to meet their demands if he wants their support. 

The alliance adjourned their meeting without deciding whom to support and will later convene for further discussions before they meet with President Reuven Rivlin. 

The Joint List’s demand for Gantz includes freezing house demolitions in Palestinian villages, stem violence in those areas, repealing the Nation-state Law and launching negotiation with Palestinian Authority. 

Lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman asked Gantz "to change direction. This is Gantz's crucial moment — or he's an alternative, or he's Netanyahu's double."

"We are committed to our voters and the values we've been advancing all along: ending the occupation, peace, justice, and real equality,” Touma-Sliman said, adding, “These principles and the aspiration to live in dignity led some half a million voters, many of them Jewish, to cast their ballot" for the alliance. 

Rivlin began Sunday two days of consultation with political parties regarding the position of the prime minister. Tuesday’s poll showed Gantz was marginally ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party. The Arab list came as the third biggest party in the Kenest with 13 seats, making it a key coalition in talks for forming a new government.

“During the elections, I called for the establishment of a rightwing government,” Netanyahu said in a video message Thursday. “But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible.”

If consultation does not work out, Rivlin might invite Netanyahu and Gantz for more consultations. Gantz had already rebuffed Netanyahu’s offer of forming coalition Thursday. 

The president has to choose a prime minister by Oct. 2 who will then have six weeks to form a government.  

There were only narrow differences in the two main parties’ campaigns on many important issues, and an end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring significant changes in policy on relations with the United States, the regional struggle against Iran or the Palestinian conflict.

RELATED: Israel: Gantz Rebuffs Netanyahu's 'Unity Gov't' Offer

Last modified onSunday, 22 September 2019 15:07
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