Israel’s president begins talks on forming new government

Rivlin expressed his preference for a unity government but members of the opposition party expressed reservations.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with the representative of  the parties for the 23rd Knesset on Sunday. They submitted their choice as to who should be selected to form the next government.

Rivlin urged that a unity government be formed to deal with the urgent crisis created by the coronavirus, echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on Saturday evening for an emergency unity government.

“I ask of all party representatives who come here to do so in the understanding that we must now deal with forming a government as soon as possible, that we lead our people at this complex time,” Rivlin said before the talks started.

“It may be that forming a government demands interim arrangements for the coming months. I have no doubt that this is what the people expects of its leaders at this time,” he said.

However, it was not clear from the meeting that such a government would be formed. At the meeting, broadcast live to the public, members of the main opposition party, Blue and White, expressed their “hard feelings” regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party, that an atmosphere of a “lack of trust” existed and their fears that democracy was under threat.

Leading Blue and White member and former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon expressed his reluctance at the meeting along with fellow party member Avi Nissenkorn.

Ya’alon posted on Twitter on Sunday before the meeting that “Blue & White is completely committed to fighting the coronavirus regardless of politics but must not take part in the destruction of democracy in Israel caused by a man under criminal indictment.”

That Netanyahu was a threat to democracy was a campaign theme of Blue and White, basing this claim on his attacks on the State Prosecutor’s Office and the attorney general, which they said undermined state institutions.

According to the Israeli system, Rivlin is tasked with selecting who will be given the opportunity to form a government. The choice typically goes to the political leader who receives the recommendation of the largest number of Knesset members.