Representatives of the Blue and White party are saying that a new government cannot be established with Netanyahu.

Yair Lapid, Blue and Whites “number 2” politician, made it clear that a unity government could be established if Bibi steps aside, insisting that Netanyahu “is attempting to drag the country into a third election”.

Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, who upset the fragile balance of power in the Knesset in May which forced Netanyahu to announce a second election in the same year, urged the prime minister to reach a compromise with Gantz.

With 98 percent of the votes counted, the the Blue and White party is holding the lead with 33 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, while Likud has gained 31 seats. The centre-left political coalition led by WHite and Blue and the Likud-led right-wing bloc have 57 and 55 seats respectively, falling short of passing the 61-seat majority threshold.

Likud’s leader and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon his major rival, White and Blue leader Benny Gantz, to form a unity government.

“Benny, it is on us to form a broad unity government. Today. The nation expects us, both of us, to accept responsibility and work together”, Netanyahu said.

In an apparent response to his competitor, Gantz noted that “in order to form a unity government, one can’t come with political blocs and spins”, emphasising that he intends to form a “broad, liberal, unity government”.

“After an election that was forced on Israel, Israel voted and made a clear choice. The people voted for unity and Blue and White won the election. It’s the biggest party”, Gantz said.