Rivlin seen tapping Lapid as Netanyahu's mandate expires

Ruby Rivlin

President Reuven Rivlin will hold further consultations with party leaders today after Benjamin Netanyahu's failure to form a new government.

The 28 days given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new coalition following the most recent Knesset election came to an end at midnight last night, without result. Netanyahu currently heads a transitional government. This morning, President Reuven Rivlin will hold a rapid round of consultations with the Knesset factions, following which he will decide whom, if anyone, to task next with forming a government. A decision is expected by the end of the week.

If the president comes to the conclusion that no-one stands a reasonable chance of forming a government, the mandate reverts to the Knesset. The Knesset then has 21 days to find a candidate backed by 61 of its 120 members. If it fails to do so, it is dissolved and another election is held.

After the first round of consultations with the political parties it was thought that if Netanyahu failed to form a government, Rivlin would return the mandate to the Knesset immediately, but the assessment now is that in the absence of an alternative candidate he will give the mandate to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Rivlin is due to meet Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett this morning. Further meetings will be set up in the course of the day, in accordance with the wishes of the party leaders and at the president's discretion.

Senior Likud figures expressed disappointment last night over the behavior of Bennett, after he refused to cooperate with the party's proposal to recommend him for prime minister on condition that he would lead a government of right-wing parties only. "We gave him everything he wanted, including the premiership. It all depended on him, but he had already decided to go with Lapid," a senior Likud source said. At a meeting of the Yamina Knesset faction on Monday, Bennett said, "I say clearly what I have said from the beginning: if Netanyahu does not succeed in forming a government of the right, we shall try to form a unity government, out of the consideration that the most damaging thing, the most destructive thing, for the State of Israel and for the Israeli public at this time is another election."

The Knesset Arrangements Committee, which until an announcement from Rivlin remains in the Likud's hands, is due to convene this morning. The committee's chairperson Miki Zohar (Likud) declared last night that he would put to a vote the bill for a direct election for prime minister and the bill abolishing the pari passu government (in which Likud and Blue & White have equal weight), but at present he has no majority for these bills. Later today, the Knesset plenum will convene, and Likud will be able to bring to a vote on first reading some of the bills that the Arrangements Committee exempted from advance notice rules yesterday, among them a bill allowing the Knesset to override decisions of the Supreme Court and a bill regularizing settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 5, 2021

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