Avigdor Liberman, leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won eight seats, is in position to be a kingmaker, but said on Sunday that he would not recommend any candidate. He said Mr. Odeh and the Joint List were not merely political opponents, but “the enemies” and belonged in the “Parliament in Ramallah,” not in the Knesset.
Mr. Liberman said that Mr. Gantz called him on Sunday night, and that the pair agreed to meet on Monday.
Mr. Rivlin began hearing the recommendations of each major party Sunday evening and was to finish on Monday, before entrusting the task of forming a government to whichever candidate he believes has the best chance of being successful.
In remarks at the start of that process, Mr. Rivlin said the Israeli public wanted a unity government including both Blue and White and Likud.
On paper, the Joint List’s recommendation increases the chances that Mr. Rivlin will give Mr. Gantz the first crack at forming a government.
But analysts said the postelection imbroglio was far from resolved.
In deciding who is better placed to form a viable and stable coalition, Mr. Rivlin may take more than the basic numbers of recommendations into consideration, according to experts. In addition to Balad’s non-endorsement, he could, for example, take into account the Joint List’s broader refusal to join a Gantz-led government in weighing Mr. Gantz’s prospects.
In any case, there are risks for both Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu in being the first to try to form a government, and analysts were already parsing the pros and cons of going first. Each might prefer their rival to try first and fail, in the hope that the second time around, it may be easier to persuade potential partners to cooperate in order to prevent a third election.
For Mr. Gantz, there could be an additional advantage in waiting: Mr. Netanyahu is facing a looming indictment in three corruption cases on accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and he could be charged in the coming weeks or months.