UPDATE AT BOTTOM.
Here's what happens in Israel if Likud cannot get Kulanu and the left-center parties follow their campaign pledges. As the top single party, Bibi Netanyahu gets 42 days to try to form a government:
Likud = 30
HH = 8
Shas = 7
UTJ = 6
JB = 6
That's 57 seats. Takes 61 to form a government.
“All Of Us” is Kulanu in Hebrew. This party is led by Moshe Kahlon, who began life as a working class fisherman and street vendor. Other founders include experienced politicians from the former Labor Party and Avi Gabai who is an expert at the telecommunications industry.
During the run up to Tuesday's election this party was listed by Haaretz and other outlets as an ally of Likud. That was seen generally by Israelis as a joke. Not a funny joke. The fact of the matter was that the Kulanu team had negotiated with the left-center Yesh Atid to run a joint list.
Here's the minimum the left-center parties have if they get Kulanu:
ZU = 24
Non-participating support from Arabs' Joint List = 14
Yesh Atid = 11
Kulanu = 10
Meretz = 4
That's 63. Last I looked that's more than 61. That's a winner.
And the religious parties, Shas and UTJ with 13 seats between them, have no reason to stay out of this government. Support from Arabs is not poison. If you look at social services and pensioners' situations, the Arabs and UTJ have common ground and share slogans.
So, what did Likud do during the campaign to earn support from Moshe Kahlon and his team ??? What respect did they show? Which issues did the Likudniks take on full force to make a partner of Kulanu and its list?
Answer's easy: Likud unleashed its criminals for such as robocalling voters with a faked audio tape saying that Kulanu was going to back Likud after the election and put Bibi back in office.
The crooks got caught and Likud was hit with a $5,000 fine. (20,000 shekels.) JPost story:
Kahlon called the recording “criminal” and asked Central Elections Committee Judge Salim Joubran to open a criminal investigation into it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party admitted to forging a recording of Kulanu leaders Moshe Kahlon promising to support Netanyahu, according to a Kulanu spokesman.
The party distributed the recording to potential voters on Monday evening, but Central Elections Committee Judge Salim Joubran ordered the group to halt using the recording at Kulanu's request.
“We are pleased that Judge Joubran stopped the Likud from continuing to distribute this untruthful recording,” the party said. “It is sad that the LIkud party, in a moment of desperation, chooses to deceive the public.”
That's what Israelis expect from Likud. “If you're not cheating, you're not trying!” That should be their motto. And now it is exactly that commitment to dishonesty that may make a Likud-Kulanu deal impossible. Not that Moshe Kahlon respected Bibi and Likud's Russians going into the election.
Kahlon popped out an observation about Gaza that made the rounds: “We could have collapsed the tunnels without a war.” Simple enough. Consider the consequences, the alternatives. For me, Moshe Kahlon is not a fan of perpetual war and I like him.
If/when Bibi can't form a government as has happened before, then we will see the left-center and Kulanu form a government. Good for Israelis. Bad for the Twenty Families who grabbed the formerly socialist main enterprises of the country. And equally bad for perpetual war.
- UPDATE: NBC News – – – – –
Evening news states that Bibi Netanyahu is going to retain his position as Prime Minister of Israel. Big victory. Great comeback. Bad for Obama. Jada-jada-jada….
Caution: Kulanu's web sites in Israel have not confirmed this result.
— www.kulanu-party.co.il — modern Hebrew
— go-kahlon.co.il/kahlon_lang/en/homepage/ — English
Somehow I suspect that NBC News understands the Israeli electoral system. 61 is a large number, but not anything to stagger an organization that covers Wall Street.