Israel’s president tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday with assembling a new government after power-sharing talks with his strongest rival, Benny Gantz, failed following an inconclusive election, Reuters reports.
Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, and Israel’s longest-serving leader, still has no clear path to a fifth term after emerging from the September 17 ballot, the second this year, short of a parliamentary majority.
The meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz has concluded. In a short time, the responsibility for forming the government will be given to Benjamin Netanyahu, after which President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu will give remarks.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) September 25, 2019
“I have decided to give you, sir, the opportunity to assemble a government,” President Reuven Rivlin said to Netanyahu at a nomination ceremony.
He will have 28 days to form a coalition and can ask Rivlin for a two-week extension if necessary. Netanyahu’s failure to clinch victory in a ballot in April led to last week’s election and left him politically weakened.
This was expected, and was actually what the Israeli opposition preferred. Neither side has the numbers to form a coalition, and the opposition is hoping Netanyahu will fail first, so that lawmakers will then feel compelled to go with them to avoid a third election. https://t.co/n8tw7bIC3H
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) September 25, 2019
In the new countdown, Likud has the pledged support of 55 legislators in the 120-member parliament, against 54 for Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party. The two parties failed to reach a coalition deal in talks launched on Tuesday.
Former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a possible kingmaker, has been keeping his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party on the fence since the September 17 ballot, citing differences with both Likud’s and Blue and White’s political allies.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)