Sep 25, 2019

Israeli president gives Netanyahu first shot to form government

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.

Go deeper

Israel's Netanyahu fails to form government for 2nd time in 6 months

Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned the mandate for forming a government to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday after failing to cobble together enough support for a coalition within the 28-day timeframe that Rivlin had granted.

Why it matters: This is the second time in six months that Netanyahu has failed to form a government after an election. Benny Gantz, leader of the center-left Blue and White party, will now get an opportunity to form a coalition, but he's also unlikely to succeed. The chances are growing that Israel will be forced to hold a third election this year.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019

Benny Gantz gets his chance to form Israel's next government

Gantz (L) and Rivlin. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of the center-left Blue and White party, has been formally granted a mandate to form Israel's next government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he'd failed to do so for the second time in six months.

Why it matters: This is the first time since 2008 that anyone other than Netanyahu has been asked to form a government. In a speech carried live by all of Israel's TV networks, President Reuven Rivlin referred to Netanyahu as "the outgoing prime minister." Still, Gantz faces long odds of cobbling together a majority.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

Trump sends Netanyahu birthday letter calling him "one of my closest allies"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday congratulating him on his 70th birthday and calling him "one of my closest allies," shortly after Netanyahu announced he had failed to form a government for the second time in six months.

Why it matters: The warm contents of the letter stand in stark contrast to the cold shoulder Trump gave Netanyahu after the Israeli election, when he said the U.S. has relations "with Israel," and not with Netanyahu. Trump and Netanyahu haven’t spoken on the phone in five weeks. Their last phone call was three days before the Sept. 17 elections, when Trump tweeted that he discussed with Netanyahu the possibility of a U.S.-Israel defense treaty.

Go deeperArrowOct 22, 2019