Though polls closed in Israel last week, the country's future is still uncertain. Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party emerged neck and neck with the Blue and White party, led by his opponent, and former Israeli general, Benny Gantz. However, in order to be elected prime minister and form a government in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), one must form a coalition of 61 seats, which involves working with other minority parties. Analysts assumed that Gantz would have the first chance to form a government, but as of this morning, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tapped Netanyahu and allowed him to have the first chance at coalition building. "Netanyahu has more of a chance to form a government," the President said.
Netanyahu, nicknamed the "the magician" for his ability to come out on top of tough political situations, has just 28 days to form a coalition government, and hold on to power. Parties that support Netanyahu for Prime Minister only hold 55 seats in the Knesset and others are reluctant to show support, due to Netanyahu's pending corruption indictment. His chances are "not good but not impossible," said Gadi Wolfsfeld, a political scientist at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, but "He's pulled rabbits out of the hat before." Netanyahu has two main paths he could take to reach 61 seats, and form a government. First, he could attempt to repair relations between the Likud and Israel's ultra-orthodox parties, after they failed to form a coalition in April. Alternatively, there has been a push a unity government being formed between his 55 seat coalition and Gantz's 54 seat coalition. "Neither of us can form a government other than with each other," Mr. Netanyahu said. He advocated that a unity government was essential "to achieve national reconciliation," after two indecisive elections. While Mr. Gantz has stated that he would refuse to form a coalition with someone facing corruption charges, public opinion may force the two parties to form a unity government, and avoid a second election.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to form a coalition in the next 28 days (with an extension of 14 days possible), Mr. Gantz will be given a chance to become PM.