Back to Zero Square: Gantz Denied Extension to Form “Israel” Gov’t
By Staff, Agencies
The “Israeli” entity’s President Reuven Rivlin rejected on Sunday Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz's request for more time to form a government, a task that could now fall to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ex-military chief Gantz was given the mandate to form a government four weeks ago by Rivlin following “Israel's” March 2 election, the third inconclusive vote in a year.
But Gantz's prospects for forming a stable coalition were always remote given the deep divisions within the anti-Netanyahu camp.
The pro-Netanyahu bloc, which includes the veteran premier's right-wing Likud and several religious parties, also remained short of a majority after last month's vote.
In a surprise move last month, Gantz was elected speaker of “Israel's” Knesset.
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the apartheid entity rising, he pledged to use that powerful position to seek an emergency unity alliance with Netanyahu to tackle the pandemic and ease a year of grinding political stalemate.
While Gantz's mandate to form a government technically runs until the end of Monday, he was no longer actively engaged in talks to forge a coalition led by him as a premiere.
Instead, he was widely believed to be pursuing a deal that would see Netanyahu remain as a prime minister for a defined period, and possibly then handing power to Gantz.
However, no deal has been agreed.
Late Saturday, Gantz asked Rivlin for an extension of his mandate.
In response, Rivlin told Gantz "that in the current circumstances no extension would be possible", a statement said.
If no unity agreement is reached by the end of Monday, Rivlin said he will ask the Knesset to nominate a candidate to become prime minister.
The Netanyahu bloc currently holds 59 of the Knesset's 120 seats.
It is therefore possible, but not certain, that parliament gives the premier a 14-day window to form a government.
Blue and White, led by Gantz, said in a statement that "the attempts by the negotiating teams to arrive at a unity government are still ongoing".
Likud said it too remained open to forming a unity government.
But it also urged Rivlin to give Netanyahu a full four weeks to form a coalition.
Netanyahu, in office since 2009, is “Israel's”: longest-serving premier and the first to be indicted while in office.