The prospect of Israel being forced to a third round of elections within 12 months is growing increasingly realistic, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inclined to announce as soon as next week that he cannot form a majority, and the rival Blue and White party aware that it is unlikely to break apart Netanyahu’s Likud party, Israeli TV reports said Friday night.
Both of Israel’s main TV stations reported that Netanyahu, who was charged by President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night with the task of trying to muster a Knesset majority, and has 28 days to try, with the possibility of 14 more days if needed, is set to announce as soon as next week that he cannot do so, and will blame rival candidate Benny Gantz’s Blue and White for the failure. Both Channels 12 and 13 said Netanyahu is set to “return the mandate” immediately after the Rosh Hashanah Jewish new year festival, which runs from Sunday evening to Tuesday night.
Rivlin would probably then invite Gantz to try to build a majority, but his Blue and White party considers it extremely unlikely that Knesset members from Netanyahu’s Likud would revolt against their leader, and thus see no real path for Gantz to form a government.
Israel held elections on September 17 after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition following elections on April 9. Then, as now, the fiercely secular Yisrael Beytenu party of Avigdor Liberman refused to join a coalition with ultra-Orthodox members. Netanyahu heads a 55-MK bloc of ultra-Orthodox and right-wing parties.
Gantz heads a bloc of 54 centrist, left-wing and Arab politicians. Three other Arab politicians are backing no prime ministerial candidate and Liberman, who insists on backing only a “liberal, nationalist” coalition including both Likud and Blue and White, holds the balance of power between the Netanyahu- and Gantz-led blocs.
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