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, APA reports quoting Reuters.
But right-wing Likud party chief Netanyahu, facing a looming indictment on corruption allegations he denies, still has no clear path to a fifth term after emerging from the Sept. 17 ballot, the second this year, short of a parliamentary majority.
Accepting the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin at a televised ceremony, a politically weakened Netanyahu said his chances of success were only marginally higher than those of Gantz, a former general who heads the Blue and White party.
In his remarks, Netanyahu seemed to envision a scenario in which he and Gantz would be able to take another stab at power-sharing once it became clear there was no way out of the current deadlock, save for a third election that few in Israel wanted.
“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,” he said.
Netanyahu, 69 and Israel’s longest-serving leader, 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.
Rivlin, in his remarks, pointedly noted that he is under no obligation to grant his prime minister-designate that two-week extension to establish a governing coalition.
Nor did he commit to turning to Gantz if Netanyahu failed to break the current deadlock. Under law, Rivlin can assign the coalition-building task to any member of parliament he deems likely to succeed, or he can ask the legislature to pick someone.