Israeli deadlock extends as Netanyahu fails to form coalition
Brussels (Brussels Morning) Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a new governing coalition by the mandated deadline on Wednesday morning, signifying yet another failure to break the country’s two-year political deadlock, still unresolved despite four elections in three years, Reuters reports.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin can now hand over the mandate to form a government to another member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Rivlin gave the mandate to Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving head of government (in power since 2009), despite concerns that the balance of power within the parliament was such that it was incapable of delivering a new government.
No realistic chance
“No candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset”, Rivlin noted in announcing Netanyahu’s nomination last month. The President reluctantly handed the mandate to the current Prime Minister, believing that he would have “a slightly higher chance” of succeeding in forming a government.
Netanyahu’s Likud party emerged from the elections nine seats short of an absolute majority in the 120-seat Knesset, but has been unable to find nine lawmakers willing to support another Netanyahu term, especially in view of his ongoing corruption trial.
Rivlin will most likely assign the coalition-building task to Yair Lapid, of the centrist Yesh Atid party, which ran second behind Likud in the March elections. However, any coalition aiming to replace Netanyahu would have to court both the ultranationalist parties and his traditional left-wing opponents, a seemingly impossible task.
Should Rivlin’s second choice fails to assemble a coalition controlling a Knesset majority within the requisite 28 days, the President will then ask the parliament to agree on a joint candidate within three weeks. Should this option also fail — more likely than not at this point — Israel could be headed for its fifth legislative elections in three years.