Following the recent inconclusive election in Israel, President Reuven Rivlin of Israel called Benjamin Netanyahu to seek to form a coalition government.
The President, whose distrust with Netanyahu is recognizable, expressed skepticism that any candidate will be able to form a parliamentary majority.
The election of March 23, the country’s fourth experience in less than two years, led to no clear victory for any candidate to make a coalition on their way to win a majority. The result proved to keep an unparalleled era of political deadlock.
The president made the decision following a round of consultations with party representatives asking party leaders for advice on who they want to form a coalition with.
The 12-year Prime Minister received 52 recommendations, 30 of which came from his Likud, as well as backing from Israel’s two ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious parties. The far-right Religious Zionism coalition also stood behind him.
Yair Lapid, the opposition leader, received 45 votes. religious-nationalist leader Naftali Bennett, the leader of Yamina party, claimed the support of seven seats while the left 16 representatives were absent.
“Benjamin Netanyahu has a slightly higher chance of forming a government. Accordingly, I have decided to entrust him with the task of doing so,” the desperate president remarked about the result of consultations.
However, Rivlin said, as many Israeli observers believe, a 61-seat absolute majority in the sharply fragmented legislature would not be feasible.
“My consultations lead me to believe that no candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset.”
At the same time with Rivlin’s conducting his consultations, Netanyahu was facing charges of taking illicit gifts and allegedly swapping regulatory favors with media moguls in return for favorable publicity in Jerusalem district court.
Netanyahu has dismissed the allegations as “fabricated and ludicrous,” claiming that he is the victim of a “witch-hunt.” Prosecutors, he claims, are attempting to remove his chances of keeping power.
Netanyahu was accused of using his clout to ensure that the famous Walla website represented him favorably while denigrating his opponents in the prosecution’s opening statements and first witness testimony.
Asserting that it was not an easy decision to call Netanyahu for forming government, the Israeli president said that many people believe that the president should not appoint a candidate who is under investigation for a crime, but according to the law and court decisions, a prime minister will continue to serve even though he is under investigation for a crime.
According to Israel’s law, Netanyahu has a 28-day chance to form a cabinet, with a two-week extension option. His chances of gaining a 61-seat majority are dim.
Netanyahu would almost definitely need the assistance of his exiled former protege, the religious-nationalist Bennett, whose Yamina party holds seven seats, to lift his tally above 60. Bennett was a key target of Netanyahu’s media smear scheme, as divulged in Monday’s court testimony.
The support from Islamic nationalist Raam party is also expected to be vital for the prime minister.’ Its chairman, Mansour Abbas, has expressed willingness to working with Netanyahu provided that Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority’s living conditions are enhanced. Religious Zionism, another group to whom Netanyahu’s chances are relying, has said it will not sit with Raam, further deepening Netanyahu’s obstacles en route.
Rivlin is expected to turn to Lapid if Netanyahu’s struggles to shape a coalition government within his negotiation window fails. If neither side be able to form a coalition, electors will be called to vote in a fifth election in less than two years.