President finds both main parties reluctant to go first
Kachol Lavan MK Moshe Ya’alon, asked by President Reuven Rivlin whom his party recommends as its first premiership candidate, named Benny Gantz and ducked questions about a unity government with Likud if he failed. In the first round of the president’s consultations on Sunday, the United (Arab) List endorsed Gantz, but one of its components, Balad, later backed out, reducing Kachol Lavan’s potential center-left bloc by 3 mandates to 54 against the Likud’s right-religious grouping of 55. The Likud delegation recommended Binyamin Netanyahu who was then endorsed by the ultra-religious Shas. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu declined to endorse any candidate. On Monday, the president goes into a second round of consultations with the parties. The final tally of votes in the Sept. 17 election awards Kachol Lavan 33 seats and Likud 31. Each prefers its rival to go first. Both assume that the first attempt to negotiate a viable coalition government will fail and the candidate-in-waiting will then have a better chance.

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