The leadership of the Blue and White Party conceded on Wednesday, despite coming in neck and neck with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in Tuesday’s national elections.
“We respect the decision of the people,” said Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz.
With more than 97 percent reporting, Blue and White and Likud were tied at 35 seats a piece. However, given the poor showing of other left-wing parties, such as Labor and Meretz, there was no clear path forward to put together a 60-seat ruling coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.
Nevertheless, Gantz touted his party’s “extraordinary” showing in the election.
“We reached an extraordinary result. Over a million people chose a ballot slip of a faction they did not know existed 10 weeks ago,” he said. “We established a true alternative to the government.”
Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid vowed to hold together the alliance between his Yesh Atid Party and Gantz that formed several weeks ago, while promising to resist a Netanyahu-led government in opposition.
“In the opposition, we will embitter the government’s life. The days are over when the opposition just tried to crawl into the government,” he said.
“The Knesset will be a battleground,” he stated.
Lapid also said their party would be preparing for future elections if Netanyahu is indicted later this year by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
“The 2020 campaign began today,” he said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is expected to meet with party leaders next week to hear recommendations for who should form the next government with Netanyahu, now officially the clear frontrunner.