JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israeli president Reuven Rivlin handed the mandate for forming a government to Prime Minister Netanyahu, not before he had expressed his reservations over the decision. Rivlin lamented the fact that he had been compelled while in office to oversee the formation of five governments, four in the past two years.
He said the main consideration must be who can best form a government that would receive the trust of the Knesset and that based on the recommendations of the various parties, no candidate can currently obtain a majority of the Knesset.
“I am under the impression that none of the candidates have a chance to form a coalition,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin said that he has ethical issues with giving the mandate to a person under criminal indictment and on trial, but the Supreme Court has ruled it permissible so he decided to stay out of that debate.
“The president cannot replace the legislators,” Rivlin said. “The decision to prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government is the Knesset’s decision.”
Rivlin however expressed his disapproval by not inviting Netanyahu to receive the mandate from him after he signed the documents giving Netanyahu 28 days to form a government.
During Rivlin’s consultations with the 13 factions in the new Knesset, 52 MKs from four factions recommended Netanyahu, while 45 from five factions recommended Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. Yamina recommended its leader, Naftali Bennett; Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and the two Arab factions didn’t recommend anyone.
Despite Netanyahu having the most recommendations, he is far from attaining the 61 votes required to form a government. Netanyahu will have to first persuade Naftali Bennett to abandon his aspiration of becoming prime minister immediately and will then have to either find MKs who will cross over to support him or to rely on the Arab MKs support from outside – but then he would lose the Religious Zionist party which is vehemently opposed to such a move.
The alternative however is also unsavory: Bennett and Saar will team up with Lapid, Gantz and Michaeli and hopefully persuade the Chareidi parties to sit with Lapid. Bennett would serve as prime minister and after two years Lapid would take over. Such a government would not require Arab MKs but would require finesse to manage the balance between left and right and between Chareidi parties and Lapid who has been their nemesis for so many years.