President pledges to do utmost to prevent elections in case of stalemate

Reuven Rivlin says he will use every legal method at his disposal to avoid a Round 3 of elections.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

President Reuven Rivlin tapped into Israelis’ sense of political exhaustion Monday evening when he went online to pledge to do all he could in order to avoid the necessity of going to a third round of elections in case Tuesday’s vote ended in a stalemate.

In the Facebook clip, the president did not just give a standard “Get out and vote” speech, although he did stress that “We have to remember that in the democratic game, influence is only felt through the ballot box.”

Instead, he went into great detail to explain the various ways a government could be formed in Israel – some of which have never occurred in the history of the state – and what his role would be in each case. But an outcome that would result in yet another election cycle was anathema to him.

“For my part, I will do everything I can within the framework of the law and the authority vested in me by virtue of my position, so that an elected government will be established in Israel as quickly as possible, and to prevent another election campaign, God forbid,” he said.

One of the things he said he’d do differently than in the aftermath of the April elections was that he would not necessarily give the Knesset member charged with building a coalition a full six weeks to do so. Coalition negotiations officially have a 28-day limit which the president is allowed to extend for another 14 days. Parties almost always request the extension, and the president has granted it.

This time, Rivlin said, “I will weigh [the application] in accordance with the circumstances that prompted the request…. I can also give them less [additional] time.”

This possible saving of time may be offset, however, by another pledge Rivlin made in the video. He said that he would wait to ask all the party heads whom they recommend as prime minister until after the vote count is made official on September 25th, and not start the process beforehand.

Five months ago, there was an unusual delay in finalizing the makeup of the Knesset as the New Right party teetered on the edge of making it in and a few ballots were recounted.

Rivlin’s video post came in reaction to a slew of requests from the public that begged the president to prevent another round of elections.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz had also asked the same thing of the president at a Sunday election rally.

“I call on President Rivlin, in order that we won’t go to elections for a third time: give the mandate for forming a government only to whomever will promise to return it, if and when he doesn’t succeed in forming it,” he said.

Gantz was referring to the law that says that if the designated leader cannot get enough coalition partners, he must return the mandate to the president, who then asks another Knesset member to try and form a government. After his failure to form a coalition in April, Netanyahu had instead dissolved the Knesset and initiated new elections.