Sep 25, 2019 - World

Israeli president gives Netanyahu first shot to form government

Netanyahu with Israel's president

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government after negotiations for a unity government with Benny Gantz, leader of an opposition center-left bloc, broke down.

Why it matters: Netanyahu would need 61 members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to support his government. His right-wing block won just 55 seats in the Sept. 17 election, though, and he has no clear path to a majority.

If Netanyahu fails, Rivlin will give the mandate to Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Party. He also faces low odds of success.

What to watch: The chances are growing that Israel will be forced to hold a third election this year.

Context: The talks between Gantz and Netanyahu were always unlikely to succeed.

  • Both men were pushed to the table by Rivlin, who proposed a unity government in which the job of prime minister would rotate.
  • Gantz demanded to be prime minister first because he'd vowed not to serve under Netanyahu while the prime minister faced looming corruption indictments.
  • Netanyahu refused to be second as prime minister due to those indictments. According to the law, Netanyahu would have to resign when indicted if he held a lower post.
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