There are three votes that determine the Israeli Prime Minister. The first, or as I call it “Phase 1”, takes place tomorrow’s Knesset election for Israel’s legislative branch. The second, or as I call it “Phase 2”, takes place when the parties that enter the Knesset nominate a Prime Minister candidate at the President’s Residence. The third, or as I call it “Phase 3”, takes place when the person who was handed the mandate to form a coalition government presents his new government for a confidence vote in the Knesset.

In my previous posts I provided my predictions for Phase 1 and Phase 2. In this piece I will present my predictions for Phase 3.

Option #1: 66 MK right-religious bloc led by Netanyahu: 30 Likud, 6 UTJ, 6 URP, 6 HaYamin HeHadash, 5 Shas, 5 Zehut, 4 Kulanu, 4 Yisrael Beitenu.

In this scenario all of the parties who nominated Netanyahu join his coalition.

Option #2: 61 MK right-religious bloc led by Netanyahu: 30 Likud, 6 UTJ, 6 URP, 6 HaYamin HeHadash, 5 Shas, 4 Kulanu, 4 Yisrael Beitenu.

In this scenario Zehut is left outside of the coalition. A variation of this option would see Netanyahu leaving out Shas, Kulanu or Yisrael Beitenu. Leaving Kahlon or Liberman out would provide a slightly more stable 62-58 coalition.

Option #3: 69 MK National Unity Government with 30 Likud, 29 Blue & White, 9 Labor, 4 Kulanu.

In this scenario Netanyahu either remains Prime Minister for the entire term or he agrees to a rotation where he will step down at some point during the term in favor of Gantz.

Option #4: 67 MK right-center-left coalition for Gantz: 29 Blue & White, 9 Labor, 6 UTJ, 5 Shas, 5 Meretz. 5 Zehut, 4 Kulanu, 4 Yisrael Beitenu

In this scenario Gantz can leave Liberman out and still lead a 63-MK coalition.


Option 1 would provide Netanyahu with the most flexibility because none of the coalition partners would have the leverage of bringing down the government if they chose to leave the coalition. However, giving senior portfolios to seven parties could prove difficult.

Option 2 is a more likely scenario than Option 1 because Feiglin, Liberman or Kahlon could ask for too much. Netanyahu might prefer to leave one of the parties in his bloc outside to start off the term instead of giving in to too many parties in coalition demands. In Phase 3 of 2015 Netanyahu started off with a 61-59 coalition, leaving Liberman out of the government for about a year, before bringing him in later when it was necessary.

Option 3 might prove the most stable, especially if the Trump Peace Plan is released between Phase 2 and Phase 3. In this scenario Gantz doesn’t need to nominate Netanyahu for Prime Minister. Gantz can fulfill his campaign pledge not to nominate Netanyahu at the President’s Residence and “replace” the right-religious bloc parties who had nominated Netanyahu in Phase 2 in Phase 3 by signing a coalition agreement. Gantz can justify it to his base that he alone can provide the stability needed for an Israeli government that would agree to pursue the Trump Peace Plan. Netanyahu has signed coalition deals with parties that have not nominated him in Phase 2. The most recent cases are Ehud Barak’s Labor Party in 2009 and Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuna Party in 2013.

Option 4 is a big stretch. UTJ & Shas have ruled out sitting with Lapid. Liberman refuses to sit with Meretz or with Yaalon. Yaalon and Meretz refuse to sit with Liberman. There does not seem to be enough senior portfolios to hand off to Liberman or Kahlon. Gantz can’t offer either of them anything better than what they would probably receive from Netanyahu. Additionally, both of them consider themselves part of the right-religious bloc.

The two most likely Phase 3 options are Option 2 (or a variation of it) or Option 3. It is difficult to predict which option Netanyahu will choose and he might pursue both of them simultaneously. He has done that in the past. The most recent case was in 2016 when Netanyahu negotiated with Herzog’s Zionist Union and Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu in efforts to expand his government.

I can’t determine at this time which option, between option 2 and option 3, is more likely but I can determine that the most likely option is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is re-elected in Phase 3.

The polls open in less than seven hours.
To all of my Israeli followers – go vote!