Netanyahu Faces Huge Challenge

Yesterday, President Reuven Rivlin announced his decision to nominate Benjamin Netanyahu as the man to try to form a new government in Israel. That announcement followed the failure in negotiations on forming a unity government with the Likud party and the Blue and White Party.

The scale of the challenge that faces Israel’s current Prime Minister is summarised very well in his acceptance speech:

“I accept the mission you have given me, I do not do so in the knowledge that
I have a high chance of forming a government, but rather in the knowledge that
my inability to do so is a little smaller than the inability of MK Gantz,
given that we are both incapable of forming a government together.”

Rivliin nominates Netanyahu to form governmentReuven Rivliin nominates Benjamin Netanyahu to form government.

His reference to being incapable of forming a government with Benny Gantz relates to the breakdown of the first round of coalition talks which were promoted by President Reuven Rivlin. He proposed a ‘paritetic’ unity government in which all responsibilities would be equally divided between the two largest parties in the newly-elected Knesset. He also proposed arrangements by which an ‘interim prime minister’ would enjoy full authority if the prime minister was forced to take a significant leave of absence.

Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have agreed to the President’s proposals while Benny Gantz rejected them, refusing to join a government led by a prime minister who faces serious criminal charges.

The final election results have given Likud 32 seats in the Knesset and the Blue and White party 33. However, the right-wing bloc of parties led by Likud commands a total of 55 seats, while the left-wing block led by Blue & White could command 54 at most, and that would only be if 10 members of the Arab Joint List agreed to actually serve in an Israeli government (something they have not done before).

After accepting the President’s mission, Benjamin Netanyahu made another call upon his main rival to join him in forming a unity government, saying to Benny Gantz:

“We won’t be able to form a government unless we do it together.”

This means that the pre-indictment hearings for the legal cases against Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of next week, could be crucial to the formation of a new government.

Netanyahu caught everyone by surprise today when he asked the Attorney-General, Avichai Mandelblit, to broadcast those pre-indictment hearings live. Mandelblit is considering his response.

Netanyahu says that so much of the case has been improperly leaked to news organisations that he would now prefer everything to be out in the open rather than risk more leaks.