Left Turn For Israeli Government Formation

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP)

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed before deadline for forming a new Israeli government expired early on Wednesday.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline expired early on Wednesday, with the country’s longest-serving prime minister having failed to break more than two years of political deadlock.

There was also no guarantee that, after the conservative incumbent was unable to assemble a new coalition, parties outside his caretaker government could bridge their differences and unseat him.

With the midnight deadline having passed, President Reuven Rivlin can assign the coalition-building task to another member of parliament. That is widely expected to be Mr. Yair Lapid, 57, whose centrist Yesh Atid party placed second to Netanyahu’s Likud in the March 23 vote.

Mr. Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and Jewish religious parties failed to win a majority, but so did a camp aiming to oust him, which would have to include his right-wing rivals as well as traditional left-wing and centrist opponents.

"We are 60 per cent headed toward another election and 40 per cent toward a new government"

Both sides have courted the support of parties representing Israel’s around 20 per cent Arab minority, potentially giving them say over a Cabinet for the first time in decades.

Mr. Naftali Bennett, head of the ultranationalist Yamina party, has emerged as a kingmaker. Mr. Bennett, 49, has voiced a preference to join Netanyahu but said he would seek a partnership with the prime minister’s opponents to avoid a fifth election as Israel reopens its economy and grapples with the challenges of Iran’s nuclear programme.

A rotation deal in which Mr. Bennett and Mr. Lapid would alternate as prime minister has also been widely mooted.

Should a new nominee tapped by Mr. Rivlin fail to put together a coalition within 28 days, the president can ask parliament to agree a candidate within three weeks. If it cannot, Israel will hold another election.

We are 60 per cent headed toward another election and 40 per cent toward a new government, Mr. Yoav Krakovsky, Kan public radio’s political affairs correspondent, forecast in a morning broadcast.

Mr. Netanyahu, 71, has been in office since 2009 and also served for three years in the 1990s. He has been fighting to hold the helm through four inconclusive elections since 2019 and is on trial for criminal corruption charges he denies.

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