View Source

Israeli President Taps the Opposition Leader Lapid to Form Government

JERUSALEM — Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the Israeli opposition, was asked on Wednesday to try to form a coalition government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so by a Tuesday deadline.

Mr. Netanyahu remains caretaker prime minister and if Mr. Lapid cannot cobble together a government, the country could face another election this summer, its fifth general election in a little more than two years.

Mr. Lapid has 28 days to persuade a majority of the 120-seat Parliament to support him after the president, Reuven Rivlin, gave him the mandate to begin coalition negotiations.

In the March election campaign, Mr. Lapid, 57, ran on a promise to preserve checks and balances, and to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from remaining in office at the head of a right-wing, religious alliance that seeks to curb the power of the judiciary.

divisions and complexities of Israeli politics currently make it impossible for Mr. Lapid to win office without reaching a compromise with parts of the far right.

general election in March with 17 seats, behind Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing party, Likud, with 30 seats.

offering Mr. Bennett a power-sharing deal in which, like the deal proposed by Mr. Lapid, Mr. Bennett would go first as prime minister.

But Mr. Bennett rejected it because the proposed alliance would still not have commanded a parliamentary majority.

Right-wing parties hold a majority in Parliament, but have been unable to form a functional government over the past two years because they are divided between those who support Mr. Netanyahu, and those who believe he should resign to focus on his corruption trial.

That split has redrawn the Israeli political map — as political ideology has become defined more by perceptions of Mr. Netanyahu than by economic policy or approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

View Source

Netanyahu Fails to Form New Israeli Government, Prolonging Deadlock

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel failed to form a new government by the midnight Tuesday deadline, putting his political future in jeopardy as he stands trial on corruption charges and prolonging a political deadlock that has only worsened after four elections in two years.

Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, may now give a rival, eclectic camp of anti-Netanyahu parties a chance to form a government, which could oust Mr. Netanyahu from power after 12 consecutive years in office.

Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party is by far the largest on Israel’s fractured political scene, having won 30 seats in a general election in March. Despite that, he was not able to muster enough coalition partners to command a majority of at least 61 seats in the 120-member Parliament.

His hopes for a right-wing and religious coalition ultimately fell short because his far-right allies refused to join a government supported by a small Islamist Arab party. The Arab party, Raam, was willing to back a Netanyahu administration in return for benefits for Israel’s Arab minority.

failed in a last-gasp effort to persuade a right-wing rival, Naftali Bennett, to join him in a power-sharing agreement that would have seen the pair take turns as prime minister.

Mr. Bennett had dismissed the offer, saying that even with his support Mr. Netanyahu could not muster a majority.

Three minutes before midnight, Likud issued a terse statement blaming Mr. Bennett for foiling Mr. Netanyahu’s chances by refusing to commit to a right-wing government, “which would certainly have led to the formation of a government joined by additional members of Parliament.”

Mr. Rivlin may now ask one of Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals — representing a disparate group of parties ranging from the pro-settlement right to the secular left — to try to cobble together a governing coalition that would send the prime minister into the opposition. Or Mr. Rivlin could ask Parliament to put forward a candidate.

He has three days to make that decision. His office said that he would restart the process on Wednesday morning by contacting each of the political parties represented in Parliament.

bribery, fraud and breach of trust, he has denied wrongdoing and insists the cases against him will collapse in court.

a political stalemate that has left Israel without a state budget for two consecutive years in the middle of a pandemic, and has delayed appointments to several key administrative and judicial posts.

The largest party challenging Likud, and the runner-up in the election, is Yesh Atid, a centrist group that won 17 seats. But its leader, Yair Lapid, a former finance minister, does not have an easy path to forming a government either.

The bloc opposing Mr. Netanyahu is made up of numerous other small parties with clashing agendas. The smaller right-wing parties in the bloc view Mr. Lapid as too left-wing to lead the government.

pledged during the election campaign to put his ego aside and concede the premiership if that was what it took to unseat Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

collapsed after seven months of political and administrative paralysis.

Some analysts say that Mr. Netanyahu, a political survivor, is happy to function as a caretaker prime minister, riding the wave of electoral turmoil from one transitional government to another, as long as he remains in office. And if the latest imbroglio ends in a fifth election, he is likely to run again.

View Source