President Rivlin conducted “Day 2” of his consultations with the remaining delegations. Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu nominated Netanyahu. Yesh Atid did not nominate anyone. Meretz chose to nominate Herzog.
It was the kingmaker Moshe Kahlon who endorsed Netanyahu for Phase 2 earlier in the day to bring him to 61 seats. This clinched Netanyahu’s victory and took away the possibility of President Rivlin choosing Herzog or demanding a unity government. The law does not allow the President to intervene if a candidate recieves a majority. Yesh Atid decided to keep their Phase 3 options open by not nominating Herzog for Phase 2, despite promising they would nominate Herzog before the elections.
President Rivlin will formally ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form his fourth government when the official results are released tomorrow or on Wedensday. Netanyahu has already started holding talks with his potential coalition partners today. It is possible that coalition negotations will go on for several weeks. The next Knesset will be sworn in next week on Tuesday March 31st. Phase 3 will be conducted after Netanyahu signs enough coalition deals to produce a majority of at least 61 MKs to approve his fourth government in Knesset.
The final tally of Phase 2, Israel’s electoral college:
Netanyahu 67 (Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, UTJ, Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu), Herzog 29 (Zionist Union, Meretz), Neither 24 (The Joint List, Yesh Atid).
My 2 cents: I’ll note that before the election I predicted a Phase 2 coalition of 66 seats for Prime Minister Netanyahu that included the above lists and many of my loyal readers disagreed with me. 🙂