Two weeks after Israel’s fourth consecutive election, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a new government.
Why does it matter: Netanyahu’s path to forming a coalition is very, very narrow. Although he was mandated by the president, Netanyahu does not currently have a majority in the Israeli Knesset that would allow him to form a new government.
Driving the news: Rivlin announced her decision after consulting with members of all the different parties on Monday.
- During the consultations, 52 Knesset members recommended Netanyahu to form the government, while 45 recommended opposition leader Yair Lapid.
- Seven members of the Knesset recommended the leader of the right-wing Yemina party, Naftali Bennett, and 16 members did not recommend any candidates.
Between linesAccording to Israeli law, the president must give the mandate to a member of the Knesset who has the best chance of forming a government.
- Rivlin said in a statement that his conclusion after the consultations was that neither Netanyahu nor Lapid have a majority to form a government, but that Netanyahu’s chances of success are “slightly better.”
The panoramaIsrael has been embroiled in a political and legal crisis for the past two years as a result of Netanyahu’s allegations and the ongoing corruption trial.
- The fact that Netanyahu remained prime minister despite his trial has created an unprecedented series of situations that have led to total government dysfunction.
- Rivlin was under public pressure not to give the mandate to Netanyahu due to his ongoing trial.
- Rivlin said he faced moral difficulty in his decision to turn to Netanyahu, but stressed that the law does not prohibit a Knesset member who is on trial from being mandated to form a government.
Whats Next: Netanyahu now has 28 days to try to form a government.
- His only way to form such a government is if he succeeds in convincing the far-right “Religious Zionism” party, which consists of Jewish and Islamophobic supremacists, to join the same coalition with the Islamic party, which is a branch of the Movement of the Muslim Brothers.
- If Netanyahu fails to form a government, the Knesset will have 21 days to try to form an alternative coalition. If this fails, Israel will go to a fifth election in September.