Blue and White looking to oust Knesset speaker Edelstein — report

Blue and White looking to oust Knesset speaker Edelstein — report

Party wants to replace Likud nominee with its own Meir Cohen to increase chances of successful legislation of policies if Gantz becomes prime minister

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein presides over a Knesset plenum session, on June 12, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein presides over a Knesset plenum session, on June 12, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Blue and White intends to replace Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein with a candidate from within the party if the centrist faction heads the next government, TV news and Hebrew press reports said Thursday and Friday.

Blue and White would reportedly like to see Edelstein replaced with party member Meir Cohen.

Party sources told the Haaretz daily that if Blue and White leader Benny Gantz becomes the next prime minister, they fear a Knesset speaker loyal to his rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could thwart their legislative agenda.

Cohen was initially floated for the post of Knesset speaker at the beginning of the outgoing term.

Blue and White parliament member Meir Cohen speaks during a Knesset discussion on a bill to dissolve the parliament, May 29, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Edelstein was re-elected, but Netanyahu failed to form a majority government and in May, dissolved the Knesset, meaning the post will be up for grabs again in the new government.

Near-complete official results on Friday confirmed a deadlock in Tuesday’s general election, putting Gantz’s party as the largest but without an obvious path to form a majority coalition.

The results from the Central Elections Committee showed Blue and White with 33 seats and Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud with 31. Third was the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties at 13, followed by the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas with nine and United Torah Judaism with eight.

Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu also had eight seats. Rounding out the list were Yamina with seven seats, Labor-Gesher with six and the Democratic Camp with five.

President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, shake hands at the memorial ceremony for the late President Shimon Peres, at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, on September 19, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The center-left bloc, including the predominantly Arab Joint List — which has never been a member of the government — has increased its power to 57 seats, with the right-wing and religious bloc at 55. Neither has the 61-seat majority necessary to form a coalition, leaving Yisrael Beytenu in the kingmaker position.

The committee stressed that the votes were not yet the final results, which will be handed to President Reuven Rivlin on September 25.

The rival parties are no closer to forming a majority coalition, raising the possibility of negotiations for a unity government.

The latest figures suggest the impasse from the previous elections on April 9 could continue. The next several weeks are expected to heavily feature coalition wrangling, as parties jockey to form a government.

Rivlin, who decides whom to task with forming a government, has promised to do what he can to avoid a third round of voting.

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