Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has announced his decision to assign the task of forming the next government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after coalition-building negotiations between the Likud and Blue and White parties have reached an apparent impasse. President Rivlin explained that he views Netanyahu’s chance of success as slightly-higher than that of his political rival, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Rivlin said: “I have decided to give you, sir, the opportunity to assemble a government.”
After recieving the Presidential mandate, Netanyahu – who is the longest serving Premier in Israeli history – repeated his call for a broad unity government. The Likud head stressed that unity is truly vital for the Jewish State, amid growing security concerns, he termed as “existential threats.”. In his words: “I will do the utmost with the mandate you gave me. If I don’t succeed, I will return the mandate to you and with the help of God and Israel’s citizens and yourself, Mr. President, we will establish a broad national unity government down the line.”
According to Israeli law, Netanyahu now has 28 days – to once again – attempt to secure the backing of a minimum-61 Knesset Member-majority. If he fails within that time frame, President Rivlin can then grant him an additional 14 days. If, however, the Likud chairman is still unable to perform the task, the Presidential mandate will then be transferred to Benny Gantz. In turn, the Blue and White leader will be given 28 days, with no possible extension. Failure by Gantz to successfully form a government will legally compel Israel to hold yet another round of national elections.
It is important to note that in light of the current political situation – only a national unity government is able to offset the occurrence of a cyclical ‘electoral limbo,’ which would be unprecedented. U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern over such a development, while speaking with Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz at last night’s reception for international delegations attending the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. After the American leader inquired about the political crisis in Israel, Katz reportedly voiced his own hopes that the necessary unity government be formed, with Netanyahu as Prime Minister.