Israeli president asks opposition to form govt after Netanyahu fails
Published : Thursday, 6 May, 2021 at 9:45 PM Count : 196
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has tasked Opposition leader Yair Lapid to form a new government, after beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a midnight deadline of forming a coalition, reports PTI.
President Rivlin's announcement on live television gave opposition a chance to end the lengthy rule of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is at the helm of politics since 2009 - becoming Israel's longest-serving premier.
Lapid, 57, a veteran journalist and politician, now has four weeks to build a coalition.
Netanyahu, 71, who is facing trial on a series of graft charges, was earlier tasked by President Rivlin to put together a government on April 6 following inconclusive polls, the fourth in the last two years.
President Rivlin's spokesman in a statement said: "Shortly before midnight, Netanyahu informed the President's Residence that he was unable to form a government and so returned the mandate to the president."
Rivlin on Wednesday contacted the parties represented in the Knesset (Israel's unicameral parliament) on the continuation of the process of forming a government.
"From the number of recommendations, it is clear that Yair Lapid could form a government that has the confidence of the Knesset, despite there being many difficulties," Rivlin said.
"I have just spoken to Yair Lapid and informed him that I am entrusting him with forming a government," he said.
Netanyahu's Likud party emerged as the single largest party in the 120-member Parliament but failed to muster the necessary 61-member support to form a government.
Likud had won 30 seats in the general election in March.
While tasking Netanyahu with the responsibility of forming the government, Rivlin had said that he was doing so reluctantly and also mentioned his "moral dilemma" given the court proceedings and lack of enough support for the Likud leader.
Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
Gideon Sa'ar, a former member of Netanyahu's Likud party who broke away to launch the New Hope party before the March 23 elections, had recommended Lapid to be tasked with forming the next government.
In the previous round of consultations with Rivlin last month, Sa'ar's six-member party didn't back anyone as premier.
Additionally, the majority of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties also chose to back Lapid this time around, saying it preferred him to any of the other options.
Until any new government is agreed and sworn into office, Netanyahu remains Israel's Prime Minister.