Israeli President Rivlin likely to ask Netanyahu to form new government

A number of differences are said to remain between Netanyahu and Gantz over the composition and policies of a unity government.

By World Israel News Staff 

On the heels of the official publication of the final results from the September 17 Knesset election, President Reuven Rivlin is poised to give the nod on Wednesday to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to form a new governing majority in parliament,  the Ynet news outlet reported Wednesday.

The final results show that Netanyahu’s Likud party earned one more seat than previously thought, falling short in the official tally by only one seat, 33-32, to Blue and White, headed by MK Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu is seen as having a somewhat better chance to garner a majority but neither candidate is seen as having an easy path forward, prompting efforts to form a national unity coalition that would include both of the largest factions.

“In a meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at the President’s Residence, Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz will brief the president on the progression of negotiations for the formation of a unity government,” reports Ynet.

However, it adds that even before that, “Rivlin is considering tasking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a coalition government as soon as this [Wednesday] evening regardless of developments in negotiations between the two major parties.”

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A number of differences are said to remain between Netanyahu and Gantz over the composition and policies of a unity government.

A source in the President”s Residence told World Israel News that a nod to Netanyahu would “in no way” mean that Rivlin has given up on the idea of a national unity government.

“He still thinks it’s a better idea. Appointing Netanyahu would only be a procedural step to get the process started,” said the source.

MK-elect Ayelet Shaked, leader of the right-wing Yemina bloc, has urged Netanyahu not to abandon the right-wing parties in his efforts to form a government.

MK Avigdor Liberman, who has been calling for a unity coalition,  says that the incumbent prime minister should show flexibility toward setting up such a government.

“Netanyahu will have 28 days to build a coalition and if [he] is unsuccessful may ask for additional time. It is the president’s prerogative to grant an extension or not,” Ynet notes. Rivlin has already stated that in such an eventuality, he might not give the extension and could appoint another candidate instead.