Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made official on Tuesday (6) the appointment of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to attempt to form a new government after the fourth inconclusive election in two years.
Rivlin, however, has expressed his reluctance to point out Bibi very clearly, as he is known as the current Prime Minister. The president said he had difficulties “from a moral and ethical standpoint” in choosing Netanyahu, as he faced charges of corruption, bribery and fraud in the courts.
According to Rivlin, “the intense political and public divergence” around Bibi’s figure did not influence his decision, although, if he could, he would prefer to leave the choice to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
“But depending on the law and the court ruling, a prime minister can continue to play his or her role even in the face of charges,” Rivlin said. “The President of the State of Israel is not a substitute for the legislature or the judiciary.”
From a practical standpoint, Rivlin also expressed skepticism about the decision itself. He said his conversations with representatives of the 13 parties represented in parliament “have led him to believe that no candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that the Knesset trusts.”
In that sense, Netanyahu’s nomination would have been purely formal, since he is still the candidate most likely to win a majority. His party, the conservative Likud, won 30 of 120 parliamentary seats, while three other supporting legends (Shas, Torah Judaism and religious Zionism) added 22 more.
“The president did his duty and had no choice but to grant Netanyahu the arrest warrant would be a shameful task for Israel,” said centrist Yair Lapid, who heads the opposition bloc. Bibi, after Tuesday’s decision.
Lapid was recommended to the post of Prime Minister by 45 parliamentarians from the Há Futuro, Azul e Branco, Israel Nossa Casa, Labor and Meretz parties. Naftali Bennett, a former ally of the current Prime Minister and now his disaffection, received seven votes from his party, the ultra-right Yemina.
“We will gladly go to all coalition negotiations to establish a stable and right-wing government,” Bennett said from Yemina Bench, without making it clear whether he intends to commit to Netanyahu.
Lapid even proposed an alliance with Bennett on Monday, along the lines of what was done – and ended up failing through internal disagreements – between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. According to the deal, Yemina’s leader would rule for the first half of his term, and then Lapid would take office. Behind the scenes, the perception is that Bennett would wait for better circumstances to accept the arrangement.
Three other legends made no recommendation for the choice of a new prime minister. Taken together, the 16 New Hope, Common List and United Arab List votes could define Israel’s political future.
Gideon Saar, who left Likud in December last year to create Nova Esperança, has publicly ruled out any possibility of collaboration with Netanyahu. For Saar, the current Prime Minister prioritizes his own image to the detriment of the State of Israel.
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh also said his coalition – made up of Palestinians and Communists – will continue to oppose Netanyahu, in part because of corruption charges against the current prime minister, but mainly because of Israel’s control over the Palestinians and what the party sees. like Netanyahu’s attempts to undermine democracy in the country.
Also according to Odeh, the Joint List is ready to endorse Lapid’s candidacy, as long as he does not partner with right-wing parties – which, in practice, would end the centrist’s prospect of victory.
The Joint List, on the other hand, has decided to remain on the fence. According to its leader, Mansour Abbas, the legend is “neither in the domain of the left nor of the right”.
“We have put ourselves in a unique political position to act to solve the problems of Arab society,” Abbas said at a press conference on Monday. To President Rivlin, the Arab leader said he would try to reach whoever is appointed to rule the country.
Abbas is an exception to the political stance of other Arab leaders and previously has shown signs that he is ready to work with Likud or other right-wing parties, provided that this alliance translates into social gains for the share it represents. Historically, Arabs have had little or no political leadership in the Israeli administration, despite making up over 20% of the population.
More conservative leaders, both Netanyahu and Lapid supporters, are opposed to joining the Joint List, which they identify as anti-Zionist and linked to terrorist factions.
Some of these accusations, however, are based on historical prejudices against Arabs, such as those expressed by the ultra-right Bezalel Smotrich, leader of religious Zionism. Openly racist and homophobic, Smotrich defends policies of Arab-Jewish segregation and has shown signs that he could quit the coalition around Netanyahu if he accepts Arab support.
The scenario is therefore that of a deep political impasse. To ensure the formation of a new government under his leadership, Netanyahu will have 28 days – extendable for 14 more, if Rivlin deems it necessary – to try to move the pieces in his favor and total 61 seats, a simple majority at the same time. Knesset.
If that doesn’t happen, the president will have two options: come up with a new name to try to form a majority (for another 42 days) or give Parliament three weeks to articulate to build consensus.
According to his speech on Tuesday, Rivlin is more inclined to the second option. If this fails, parliament will automatically be dissolved and Israelis will have to go to the polls again – which would be the fifth legislative election in just over two years.