Israeli PM Netanyahu Given First Shot at Forming Government By Phillip Howard
One week after an unprecedented do-over election, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the first shot at forming a ruling government. Rivlin said in a statement that Netanyahu had the “best chance” to form one.
Rivlin contended that “the Israeli people need to know that a government can be established…it is true that everyone will have to compromise. But if a government is not formed, it is the citizens of Israel who will pay the greatest price.”
Netanyahu accepted the task and called for a “broad unity government” with opposing parties. Netanyahu’s remarks were aimed at his primary rival, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s former military chief and current leader of the opposition Blue and White party.
Blue and White initially won more seats following the recent election, given him a narrow victory. Subsequently, Gantz’s support dipped slightly, given Netanyahu the first chance to form a coalition, as is typical for the party that wins the most support.
Some, like Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab alliance, believe Gantz purposefully sought to downgrade his standing out of the belief Netanyahu would fail and Gantz would emerge in an even stronger position to build a coalition.
Gantz has refused to work with Netanyahu, contending his party “does not agree to sit in a government whose leader is facing a severe indictment,” and that “this issue, among a number of other critical factors, is more important to us than any delegation of ministerial posts or rotation.” Netanyahu currently faces corruption and bribery charges, which may proceed if he fails to secure a leadership position.
Netanyahu has 28 days to set up a new government with the possibility of getting a 14-day extension.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College