On October 21st, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin two days before the deadline to build a coalition.
Netanyahu released a video on Twitter, in which he complained that his prime competitor Benny Gantz refused to negotiate with him.
הודעה חשובה ממני אליכם pic.twitter.com/cZ7Riua3La
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 21, 2019
He claimed that, in addition to what he had done in public, he had also initiated “secret steps” to form a coalition with Gantz.
In his statement Netanyahu said he had “made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table. Every effort to establish a broad national unity government, every effort to prevent another election. To my regret, time after time he declined. He simply refused.”
He further warned that Gantz could form a minority government, backed by the Joint List. Netanyahu would be the head of the opposition if such a government were to be formed.
“A minority government will be formed with the support of Joint List MKs who encourage terror and oppose Israel’s existence,” Netanyahu warned. “How can a minority government led by Gantz and supported by these MKs fight terror?”
He said that a unity government was still possible. By law, if Gantz fails to build a coalition during the 28-day mandate he will receive from Rivlin, there will be 21 days in which any MK can obtain the support of 61 MKs to form a government.
If no one succeeds, there will be yet another snap election.
“The time for political spin is over, and now is the time for action,” Blue and White [Gantz’ party] said in response. “Blue and White is determined to create the liberal unity government led by Gantz that the people elected a month ago.”
Gantz would reportedly invite Netanyahu to negotiations to form a government, in which he would precede as the one to assume the Prime Minister seat.
Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid called Netanyahu “a serial failure,” because he also failed to form a government after the April election.
He said that, at least, this time Netanyahu didn’t disperse the parliament, but even if he tried the Blue and White would block the move.
“It’s good to know they are not going to do anything awful and destructive just because they can’t,” Lapid said.
Gantz’s Blue and White party was the largest to emerge from the Sept. 17 ballot, though he also has no clear path to a parliamentary majority. Gantz is more than a dozen seats short of the 61-seats he would need for a majority in the 120-seat parliament.
A spokeswoman for Likud’s [Netanyahu’s party] negotiating team said that Likud chief negotiator Yariv Levin had made a public promise to Rivlin that Netanyahu would return the mandate if Netanyahu failed to form a government, instead of dismissing the parliament.
Joint List MK Ofer Kassif released a statement saying “good riddance,” and calling Netanyahu “the worst prime minister in Israel’s history.” He said it would take years to fix the damage Netanyahu caused.
Netanyahu is the only one who’s been Prime Minister in Israel since 2009. He initially was prime minister after the 1996 elections for one mandate, becoming Israel’s youngest prime minister.
The next few weeks are not only crucial for Netanyahu’s political life, but also possibly his freedom. Israel’s attorney general is currently deciding whether to indict him in three potential corruption cases. If he remains prime minister, indictments against him do not make it necessary for him to step down. He, naturally, denies all allegations against himself.
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