Israel‘s main Arab political parties endorsed ex-military chief Benny Gantz for prime minister, breaking a nearly 27-year-long standard of not endorsing a candidate in the hope of removing current leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
The leader of the so-called Joint List, Ayman Odeh, said on Sunday the alliance’s decision was not an endorsement of Gantz’s policies or the man himself.
Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party won the most seats in the September 17 election with 33 out of parliament’s 120 seats, while Netanyahu’s Likud finished second with 31. Meanwhile, the Joint List coalition won 13 seats, making it the third-largest grouping.
"On behalf of the Joint List, I am recommending that Israel’s president choose Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to be the next prime minister."— @AyOdeh in a new Op-Ed https://t.co/7z2m6a0UTH
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) September 22, 2019
Sixty-one seats are needed to form a government.
“This will be the most significant step towards helping create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu. And it should be the end of his political career,” Odeh wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times newspaper, released on Sunday as he met President Reuven Rivlin at his residence in West Jerusalem.
Rivlin spent the day meeting with officials from the major parties to break the deadlock and form a government.
Israeli Arab parties back Gantz for PM in bid to oust Netanyahu https://t.co/wjd6MKaVmA
— The Guardian (@guardian) September 22, 2019
Neither the Joint List nor the Blue and White Party indicated they planned to work together if Gantz formed a coalition government.
But the endorsement “is a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Arab-Palestinian citizens”, Odeh wrote.
Israeli Arab party endorses ex-army chief Gantz for prime minister, to oust Netanyahu: "Clear message that only future for this country is a shared future. We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored"https://t.co/tPS7om2uYr pic.twitter.com/MHINOKmsNQ
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) September 22, 2019
It was the first time that majority Arab parties had endorsed a candidate for prime minister since 1992, when they backed Yitzhak Rabin, who went on to sign the Oslo Accords, agreements aimed at fulfilling the right to self-determination for Palestinians.
(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)