Netanyahu’s Tenure As Israeli PM Could End If Opposition Leader Forms Government

(Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Benjamin Netanyahu’s time as Israeli prime minister could soon be coming to an end now that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is affording an opposition leader the chance to form a new government, The Associated Press reported.

After Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government by midnight on Wednesday, Rivlin spent the day consulting with members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, according to The Associated Press. Rivlin later announced on live television that Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid Party would be given a shot to form a coalition government.

“It is clear that Knesset member Yair Lapid has a chance to form a government that will earn the confidence of the Knesset, even if the difficulties are many,” Rivlin said during his announcement, The Associated Press reported.

In Israel, members of parliament are elected through closed party-list proportional representation, where voters cast ballots to a certain political party and seats are then proportionally allocated based on the vote share of the respective parties. A rank-ordered list of party members then fill these seats up to the number allocated.

While the post of Israel’s President is largely ceremonial, it holds some key powers, such as appointing certain government actors, the power to pardon, among others. With regards to elections, Israel’s President can issue an edict calling for early elections — typically in response to a government stalemate — and is responsible for choosing which Knesset member has the best chance at forming a government after an election.

After the March 23 elections, which The Associated Press noted was the fourth time elections have resulted in deadlock in the past two years, Rivlin allowed Netanyahu the first opportunity to form a majority coalition because he had the most Knesset-member endorsements for the position. However, Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister for the past 12 consecutive years and 15 years in total, was unable to broker a deal between other parties to form a government, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: ‘A Festival Of Democracy’: Exit Polls Indicate Another Close Israeli Election)

While Rivlin consulted with Israeli leaders and lawmakers, the 52-member cohort that supported Netanyahu for prime minister lobbied Rivlin to let parliament choose a prime minister, The Associated Press reported. The center-right Likud party, chaired by Netanyahu himself, said such a decision “will save another period of uncertainty for the state of Israel” in a statement.

However, The Associated Press reported that Rivlin rejected Likud’s argument, saying it would “bring us to fifth elections without exhausting all options to forming a government.”

Lapid is working fast to establish a government and oust Netanyahu, and has approached the right-wing Yamina party’s leader Naftali Bennett with a deal that would make the prime ministership a rotating position split between the two, according to The Associated Press.

“We need a government that will reflect the fact that we don’t hate one another,” Lapid said, according to The Associated Press. “A government in which left, right and center will work together to tackle the economic and security challenges we face. A government that will show that our differences are a source of strength, not weakness,” he added.