World Politics

Netanyahu tapped by Israel's president to assemble new government

Key Points
  • Israel President Reuven Rivlin tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday with assembling a new government after talks with Benny Gantz failed.
  • Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a coalition and can ask the president for a two-week extension, if necessary.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive for the a press conference in Jerusalem on September 25, 2019.
Menahem Kahana | AFP | Getty Images

Israel's president tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday with assembling a new government after power-sharing talks with his strongest rival, Benny Gantz, failed following an inconclusive election.

Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party and Israel's longest-serving leader, still has no clear path to a fifth term after emerging from the September 17 ballot, the second this year, short of a parliamentary majority.

"I have decided to give you, sir, the opportunity to assemble a government," President Reuven Rivlin said to Netanyahu at a nomination ceremony.

Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a coalition and can ask Rivlin for a two-week extension, if necessary. Netanyahu's failure to clinch victory in a ballot in April led to last week's election and left him politically weakened.

In the new countdown, Likud has the pledged support of 55 legislators in the 120-member parliament, against 54 for Gantz's centrist Blue and White Party. The two parties failed to reach a coalition deal in talks launched on Tuesday.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a possible kingmaker, has been keeping his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party on the fence since the Sept. 17 ballot, citing differences with both Likud's and Blue and White's political allies.

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Key Points
  • The fact that this election was forced thanks to a military draft dispute makes it look like defense and security are indeed the catalysts and key issues for the voters.
  • But you have to dig deeper to see that the draft issue is really just one aspect of an income and cultural inequality problem that may be just as threatening to Israel's future as Hamas or Iran.