Israeli President Urges Unity Govt as Vote Count Continues

Kingmaker Kahlon Won't Rule Out Backing Anyone

The counting continues in Tuesday’s Israeli election, with exit polls showing a dead heat between Likud and Zionist Union, who are both projected to get 27 seats. 60 are required to form a coalition government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already claiming victory, having gained more seats than expected, while Isaac Herzog, the head of the Zionist Union, says it’s too soon to say where the count will end up.

President Reuven Rivlin is keen to see the two top lists join together in a unity government, saying he believes that only a unity deal will last, and anything else will mean another new election in the near future.

The election was such a nasty one, however, with Netanyahu angrily condemning the Zionist Union at every turn, that unification is going to be hard to stomach, and both sides are likely to try to get a majority without the other.

That means Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party is in more demand than ever, as their expected 9-10 seats are likely to be the pendulum on which ruling coalition and opposition swing.

Kahlon has made clear he wants the Finance Ministry portfolio as a minimum condition for joining either side, and he’s not ruling out backing either side. What other portfolios his party might get will likely grow over the coming days as he is courted by both sides.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of