Netanyahu Fails to Form Government

On Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin gave Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid, the mandate to form a governing coalition after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so. Lapid now has 28 days in which to achieve this.

He has made an agreement to work with Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett towards that end, and they are reported to be planning to have a coalition in place within one week!

Bennett and Lapid in discussion in 2017Bennett and Lapid in discussion in 2017 (photo: Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Lapid has said he is willing to allow Bennett to serve as prime minister first in a rotation deal.

Naftali Bennett holds to right-wing views and has drawn a lot of blame for preventing the formation of a right-wing coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.

But Bennett’s deputy leader, Ayelet Shaked, reiterated her support for him in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening, writing that:

‘Since the elections, Naftali and I worked tirelessly to try and form a right-wing government.’

She claimed that, as well as Netanyahu, the leaders of three other parties were responsible for the failure; and went on to emphasise:

‘Naftali came to the negotiations table with Netanyahu with clean hands,
an open heart and a deep desire ... he turned every stone to try and make
 a right-wing government a reality – I saw it with my own eyes.’

 

One of the difficulties faced by Bennett is that a member of his party has already said he would vote against a government formed with Yair Lapid and others in ‘the anti-Netanyahu camp’.

Consequently, Bennett is pushing to finish talks on forming a coalition within days, for fear that other members of the Knesset within his party might also decide to oppose such a move.

The challenge Lapid and Bennett face is that the coalition possibilities require an unusual combination of right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties as well as the Islamist Ra’am party. That raises doubts about the stability of any coalition they form.

Their plans are said to involve a new government that would focus on reviving Israel’s economy and prioritising a number of socio-economic issues; focusing on common ground in the centre of the political spectrum and not veering to the right or to the left.

They also need to agree on who will fill the important role of Knesset speaker – a significant challenge in a coalition that includes several parties rather than just two.

Yet there does seem to be hope that they can reach an agreement within the next week or two.

If they fail, the mandate will be returned to the Knesset for any member to present the support of 61 members within 21 days. If none of them can do that, the Knesset will be dissolved again and a fifth election will be held.