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.
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.
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.
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.
Source: Palestine Chronicle