News ID: 302787
Published: 0147 GMT May 05, 2021

Netanyahu's two main rivals seek chance to form cabinet after he fails

Netanyahu's two main rivals seek chance to form cabinet after he fails

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's two main political rivals each asked the president on Wednesday for the chance to try to form a cabinet, after Netanyahu failed to meet an overnight deadline to assemble a coalition.

Israel's longest serving leader, Netanyahu, 71, has been fighting to hold onto office through four inconclusive elections since 2019, Reuters reported.

The most recent vote on March 23, held while Netanyahu is also on trial for corruption charges he denies, yielded no majority for the prime minister or for a loose alliance of rivals from across the political spectrum aiming to topple him.

A 28-day mandate to put together a coalition ran out at midnight after Netanyahu failed to agree terms with potential right-wing partners, opening the way for President Reuven Rivlin to assign the task to another member of parliament.

That is widely expected to be Yair Lapid, 57, whose centrist Yesh Atid Party placed second to Netanyahu's right-wing Likud. A power-sharing agreement has been widely mooted, in which Lapid would rotate in office with politician Naftali Bennett, 49, of the Yamina Party.

Rivlin met the two separately, and each put his own name forward to lead coalition talks, a spokesman for the president said.

Netanyahu and his opponents have both courted the support of parties representing Israel's about 20% Arab minority, potentially giving them say over a cabinet for the first time in decades.

Much of the impasse results from Netanyahu's legal troubles: Some prospective allies have pledged not to serve under a prime minister who is on trial.

Failure to break the deadlock would lead to a new election.






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