Rivlin: ‘I’ll do everything I can to prevent another election campaign’

The president says that he has been “flooded” with messages from the public concerning the current political crisis.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Amid the political turmoil that could lead Israel to a second parliamentary election in just five months, and a warning from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that doing so would cost millions of shekels, President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement on Wednesday, pledging that he would do everything he could “to prevent the State of Israel from going through another election campaign.”

The ceremonial Israeli president’s responsibilities include giving the nod to the member of Knesset deemed the most likely to be capable of forming a government coalition that has a parliamentary majority. He had given the first opportunity to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the April 9 election, based on the recommendation of a majority of MKs in the new Knesset.

Netanyahu’s deadline for declaring that he can form a government is midnight Wednesday night. As of mid-afternoon on Wednesday, no official agreements with other parties have been announced.

In a statement and a video, President Rivlin says that he has been “flooded” with messages from the public concerning the current political crisis.

Rivlin explains that if midnight passes without an announcement of a government by Netanyahu, there are two options which are at the president’s disposal: to give someone else a chance to form a government or to decide that no one has the ability to do so and therefore, there is no choice but to go to another general election.

The president notes that he would have three days to make that determination.

The effort currently underway by Netanyahu to pass legislation dissolving parliament and setting September 17 as an election date is aimed at taking away the president’s ability to choose anyone else to form a government, in addition to pressuring MK Avigdor Liberman into joining a Netanyahu government at the last minute.

The only other person who seemingly could get the nod to try to form a coalition is MK Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, which – like the Likud – won 35 seats in the April ballot.

However, the constellation of Knesset parties would appear to make it even more difficult for Gantz to succeed at the task, if not impossible.