Israel's Netanyahu faces midnight deadline to form coalition

Associated Press

JERUSALEM (May 4, 2021) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a midnight deadline on Tuesday to put together a new coalition government — or be looking at the possibility of leading his Likud party into the opposition for the first time in 12 years.

Netanyahu has struggled to secure a parliamentary majority since March 23 — when elections ended in deadlock for the fourth consecutive time in the past two years. Despite repeated meetings with many of his rivals and unprecedented outreach to the leader of a small Islamist Arab party, Netanyahu has not been able to close a deal during a four-week window.

That window was to expire at midnight, at which point the matter returns to President Reuven Rivlin in the absence of an agreement.

A failure to reach a deal would not immediately push Netanyahu out of office.

Rivlin could give him an additional two weeks to form a coalition. He could give one of Netanyahu's opponents an opportunity to form a government, or in a final move of desperation, send the matter straight to parliament.

That would give lawmakers a chance to choose one of their own as a prime minister. If all options fail, the country would face another election this fall, meaning months of continued political paralysis.

In the March 23 election, Netanyahu’s Likud emerged as the largest single party, with 30 seats in the 120-member parliament. But to form a government, he needs to have the support of a 61-seat majority.

That task has been complicated in large part by members of his own religious and nationalist base.

The New Hope party, led by a former Netanyahu aide, refuses to serve under the prime minister because of deep personal differences. Religious Zionism, a far-right party that espouses an openly racist platform, supports Netanyahu but has ruled out serving in a government with the Arab partners he has courted. Yamina, another right-wing party led by a former Netanyahu aide, has refused to commit to either him or his opponents.

On Monday, Netanyahu said he had offered the head of Yamina, Naftali Bennett, the chance to share the job of prime minister in a rotation, with Bennett holding the post for the first year.

Bennett responded: “I never asked Netanyahu to be prime minister. I asked to form a government. Unfortunately, he does not have that.”

Looming over Netanyahu has been his ongoing corruption trial. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery in a series of scandals. The trial has moved into the witness phase, with embarrassing testimony accusing him of trading favors with a powerful media mogul. Netanyahu denies the charges.

Comments will be temporarily unavailable. Thank you for your patience as we restore this service!

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWS BRIEF

FEATURED PODCAST

VOTE IN OUR POLL

Are elections in your state well-protected against voter fraud – or is election reform needed?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Chamber of Commerce seeks end to Biden anti-work incentive
Texas becomes the latest state to fight election fraud
It's confirmed...major plunge in California population numbers
Police: 29 people recovered from semitruck in Texas
Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinian terrorists

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Dems after bad jobs report: More spending is answer
Media suddenly focused on inflation after D.C. spending spree
NY AG: 'Net neutrality' comments to FCC faked
White House admits it tries to keep Biden from probing reporter
Cori Bush slammed for referring to mothers as 'birthing people'

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day
NEXT STORY
It's confirmed...major plunge in California population numbers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 7, 2021) — California’s population fell by more than 182,000 people in 2020, marking the first year-over-year loss ever recorded for the nation’s most populous state.