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Netanyahu didn’t win Israel’s election. So why is he getting the chance to form a government?

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin presents Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with the mandate to form a new government, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Sept. 25, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

By JOSEFIN DOLSTEN (JTA) – As votes were counted following last week’s election in Israel, many saw the results as a loss for longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After all, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party won fewer seats than the Blue and White party of his main competitor Benny Gantz.




So it came as a surprise for many on Wednesday when Israeli President Reuven Rivlin decided to give Netanyahu, rather than Gantz, the first shot at forming a ruling government.
The Sept. 17 election wasn’t just a battle between Netanyahu and Gantz, or Likud and Blue and White. The two men represent the country’s two largest parties, but Israel’s electoral process isn’t that simple. In the current system, whichever party wins the most votes still has to create a coalition of parties that together makes up a majority of seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
In other words, to lead the country, the parties need to work with smaller parties and convince them to join their coalitions to reach the magic majority number of seats: 61.
At the moment, neither Netanyahu or Gantz has an easy path to a coalition of 61 seats – but Rivlin decided that Netanyahu has a slightly better chance.
Even with that opportunity, Netanyahu might not emerge victorious when all is said and done.

Still confused? Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works, and what could happen next.
How does Israel’s electoral system work?
There are 120 seats in the Knesset. The number of parties fluctuates as they disintegrate and give way to new ones – and most don’t get enough votes to pass the threshold needed to make it to the Knesset. For a breakdown of the country’s major parties, check out this guide.
Israeli citizens do not vote for specific politicians but rather for parties, whose members then vote for their leaders. No party has ever been able to get a majority of seats in the Knesset on its own, so parties have had to form coalitions with each other throughout Israel’s history.
Netanyahu’s last coalition included a number of religious and nationalist right-wing parties. Gantz partnered with a number of centrist and left-wing parties, and this time around he has also earned the support of the Arab Joint List – a group of Arab parties that have never before been included in a governing bloc (the List’s leader Ayman Odeh said it would not officially join his government but support him from outside the ruling coalition).

How did we get here?
In his most recent coalition, in addition to the nationalist and religious parties, Netanyahu also teamed up with the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Liberman.
But that fell apart at the end of last year, when Liberman got angry over a cease-fire agreement brokered with Gaza and Netanyahu’s refusal to pass a bill to extend the military draft to involve more haredi Orthodox men. Afraid that his coalition would crumble, Netanyahu called for new elections, which took place in April.
Though it seemed he was poised to form a right-ring coalition following those elections, he didn’t garner quite enough votes and support to do so. Gantz and his team of seasoned politicians – including Yair Lapid and former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon – made a formidable debut on the national stage. That gridlock triggered a second election.

Why does the president get to choose, and why did he choose Netanyahu?
Though the Israeli president is mainly a ceremonial figurehead, the office does have one important role in forming the post-election government: deciding who has the best chance at forming a ruling coalition and giving that leader the chance to do so.
Initially, it seemed that Netanyahu and Gantz might work together to form what is called a unity government, in which they each hold prominent positions and possibly even trade off the prime minister role. But that possibility fell apart after days of negotiations, and Rivlin – who has clashed publicly with Netanyahu in the past – decided to grant the sitting prime minister 28 days to try to form a ruling coalition.
Rivlin ultimately sees an easier path to 61 seats for Netanyahu and his allies, because there are simply more elected right-wing lawmakers than there are centrist and left-wing ones. Rivlin also take the recommendations of the elected Knesset members into account. In the end, it still came down to numbers: parties with a total of 55 seats recommended Netanyahu to form the next government, while 54 recommended Gantz.
Even so, the eight seats that Liberman won loom large and would tip either side over 61 – but Liberman has insisted on the idea of a unity government, and won’t pledge his help to either Netanyahu or Gantz on their own. So plenty of negotiating remains to be done.

What happens next?
To say the picture is unclear might be an understatement.
“My inability to form a government is slightly less than that of Gantz,” Netanyahu said Wednesday.
Some analysts say that Netanyahu is unlikely to get his allies together, again, and that could seriously damage his reputation – or even lead to a third election. Others say that whether he forms a ruling coalition or not, being the first one to try to do so boosts his public image as a leader.
Gantz might actually be happy about the way things have worked out so far. Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List Party, said that Gantz’s party strategically asked him to have only 10 out of his 13 Knesset members recommend Gantz as leader of the country, essentially handing the first shot at the coalition-building to Netanyahu. Perhaps Gantz feels that if Netanyahu fails first, the country will rally around the Blue and White leader to avoid that dreaded third election.
Either way, there is a lot to watch for in the coming weeks.

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” ( has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website,, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” ( That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

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Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at

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The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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