Two weeks after Israel’s fourth election in a row, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday gave the mandate to form a new government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Why it matters: Netanyahu’s path to forming a coalition is very, very narrow. Although he received the mandate from the president, Netanyahu does not currently have a majority in the Israeli Knesset that allows him to form a new government.
Running the news: Rivlin announced his decision after holding consultations with members of all the various parties on Monday.
- During the consultations, 52 members of the Knesset recommended Netanyahu to form a 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 1
Between the lines: Under 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 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 big picture: Israel has been engulfed in a political and legal crisis for the past two years as a result of Netanyahu’s accusations and ongoing corruption trials.
- The fact that Netanyahu remained prime minister despite his trial has created a number of unprecedented situations that have led to a total dysfunction of the government.
- Rivlin was under public pressure not to give the mandate to Netanyahu because of his ongoing lawsuit.
- Rivlin said he faced a moral dilemma in his decision to pressure Netanyahu, but stressed that the law does not prohibit a member of the Knesset who is on trial from receiving the mandate to form a government.
What’s next: Netanyahu now has 28 days to try to form a government.
- His only way to form such a government is if he manages to convince the radical right-wing party “Religious Zionism”, which consists of Jewish supremacy and Islamophobes, to sit together in the same coalition with the Islamic Party – which is an outlet for Muslim Brotherhood movement.
- If Netanyahu fails to form a government, the Knesset will have 21 days to try to form an alternative coalition. If this also fails, Israel will go to a fifth election in September.