Members of the Joint List Ayman Odeh, left and Ahmad Tibi during a consultation meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP)
In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 file photo, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, left, Esther Hayut, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a memorial service for former President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks during a consultation meeting with members of the Likud party, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP)
Sunday, September 22, 2019 1:10 pm
Arab lawmakers in Israel endorse Gantz for PM
JERUSALEM – The Latest on the Israeli elections (all times local):
The Arab bloc in Israel's parliament has endorsed Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz for prime minister.
With that nod, Gantz looks to edge by incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu in the number of lawmakers who will endorse him.
Representatives of the Joint List of Arab parties told President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday that they recommend the former military chief. This is the first time since 1992 that Arab parties have endorsed a candidate for prime minister.
Israel's largely ceremonial president is tasked with picking the politician with the best chance of forming a stable coalition government. While usually a formality, this time Rivlin plays a key role after an election earlier this month in which neither of the top candidates has an outright majority of 61 members of the 120-seat parliament.
Kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman has endorsed neither of the candidates.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is starting his two-day consultations with all elected parties before deciding upon the prime minister-designate amid post-election deadlock.
Rivlin will begin hearing Sunday the recommendations of various parties at his residence. The largely ceremonial president is tasked with picking the politician with the best chance of forming a stable coalition. It's usually a formality, but this time Rivlin plays a key role after an almost tied election result.
In last week's vote, Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party won 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament, while incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative Likud took 31 seats. Neither can muster a majority coalition with their traditional smaller allies. The emerging compromise appears to be some form of unity government between the two, though both insist upon leading it.