Middle EastNews

Israeli Arab Bloc Backs Netanyahu’s Rival Gantz

Israeli-Arab lawmakers have recommended that the former army chief Benny Gantz should become prime minister.

Last week’s election put the incumbent leader Benjamin Netanyahu neck and neck with Mr Gantz, and the two are now vying to build a governing coalition.

Joint List, the bloc of Arab parties that came in third, says it wants to oust Mr Netanyahu from power.   Its backing could nudge President Reuven Rivlin to tap Gantz instead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose nationalist campaign preyed on anti-Arab sentiment.

It was the first time since Yitzhak Rabin ran for office in 1992 that Arab parties have recommended a candidate for prime minister.

Arab parties have never been in cabinet, both because Jewish lawmakers haven’t seen them as desirable partners and because they haven’t wanted to join a Zionist-led administration.

While many are sceptical that Arabs would have much influence in a Jewish-led administration, a recent poll showed 76 per cent of Arab voters want to see their representatives in government.

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