“Every time I take my youngest daughter, Sham, to her school, I see a passage written on the wall from the Book of Psalms: `The stone that the builders rejected became a cornerstone.' ” Ayman Odeh, Chairman of Joint List, 13 elected members of Knesset
The Arab-Israeli citizens' votes won the Joint List the rank of 3rd largest bloc in Knesset with 13 seats. Breaking with their historical pattern of not recommending a PM, the Joint List decided to back Gantz in order to "end" Netanyahu's career, according to a piece by Ayman Odeh’s opinion column that appeared in the New York Times, September 22, 2019.
Opinion | Ayman Odeh: We Are Ending Netanyahu’s Grip on Israel – The New York Times
But, despite the compelling Opinion piece that Odeh had in the New York Times, 3 elected Members of Knesset from the Balad party in his bloc, said that they will not recommend a PM. This morning, the Times of Israel and other papers published this statement from one of the Joint List party leaders, reportedly from a letter delivered to Israeli President Rivlin on Sunday. The statement says:
"`I would like to announce that the three Balad Knesset members have asked me as the faction chairman to declare that the Joint List’s recommendation of MK Benny Gantz does not include them, and therefore the recommendation is in the name of ten MKs and not 13,’|” MK Ahmad Tibi of Ta’al wrote in a letter, which was apparently sent to Rivlin on Sunday and published Monday morning. (Times of Israel)
Both Likud and Blue & White are short of the coalition total of 60. But now, the totals are:
B&W (33 seats) coalition is 54 seats
Likud (31 seats) coalition is 55 or 56 seats
What will President Rivlin do? Previous presidents have asked the lead party to form a government, but he apparently has some discretion.
Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beiteinu endorsed no-one, leaving 8 seats in the balance. That could make either bloc take the government, but he has said "NO" to religious parties, and it was he who essentially brought down Netanyahu after the April election. What is Liberman, standard bearer for the “Russian” vote, made of? We will see.
Rivlin invites Gantz to form a government based on B&W's 33 seats.
Rivlin invites Netanyahu to form a government, based on the fact that his "coalition" (Likud + religious parties+ extreme right wing settlers/annexationists) has 1 or 2 commitments more than B&W
Grand Coalition without Netanyahu: B&W with Gantz PM, Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu: PM will rotate, Gantz first.
Grand Coalition with Netanyahu: B&W, Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu. Almost the same as the last 12 years; very unstable, B&W or YB could leave at any time.
New Elections: Rivlin goes with one of the above options which doesn't make it.
To be clear, Liberman has said all along that his party will NOT join a government endorsed by the Arabs; but he also says that his bloc will NOT join a government with the religious parties.
In Israeli politics, said a recent Israeli newspaper, "anything is possible."