Netanyahu’s mandate at an end, rivals compete for their chance at the premiership

It will likely be opposition leader Yair Lapid who gets the mandate.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

With Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s opportunity to form a government having ended at midnight Wednesday, his political rivals are vying for a bid to be given the chance to build a coalition.

In one of his most important functions, it’s Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who gets to decide who will be next. He met with Naftali Bennett of the Yemina party and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid. He also met with members of other parties to hear their recommendations.

It will most likely be Lapid who gets the mandate. He received 51 recommendations from various parties to Bennett’s seven. Among those recommending Lapid was the right-wing New Hope party led by Gideon Saar.

The probability that Yemina would also join such a government appears high. According to sources in Yesh Atid’s party, Lapid has already agreed to Bennett’s condition that he serve first as prime minister in a power-sharing agreement.

Bennett’s willingness to bring his right-wing party into a coalition with left-wing and Arab parties will likely cost him support with his base, as his No.2, former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, admitted in a leaked recording this week.

Read  Bennett Tells CNN: 'If Bin Laden is in a hospital, you go in and kill him'

Bennett argues that “Israel urgently needs a good, stable and functioning government,” and he will do anything to avoid a fifth election in less than three years.

He has met internal opposition. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Yemina MK Amichai Chikli opposes the move to join forces with the Left. He said it would mortally wound “our brothers, Likud voters” in a letter addressed to Bennett and obtained by Hebrew news site N12.

“Like many good people, I believe that going to the fifth election is a very bad option, a last resort. Like many good people, I believe that refreshing the leadership and political forces is essential, but not at any cost,” Chikli said.

In the letter, Chikli said that he opposed on ethical grounds the breach of promises the party made to its voters. Yemina had promised to form a right-wing government and pledged not to sit with the far-left Meretz party. And it had assured its voters it would not crown Lapid as prime minister.