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Benny Gantz was asked by the president to form a government four weeks ago. The mandate is set to expire Monday.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin informed Sunday Blue and White party leader and Parliament Speaker Benny Gantz that he will not be granted more time to form a government, a decision that could leave the task to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last month, in a surprise move, Gantz was elected speaker of the Knesset (Parliament) and pledged to use this new position to form an emergency alliance with Netanyahu in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Following that, the leader of the Blue and White party was widely believed to no longer engaged in talks to forge a coalition led by him as prime minister but trying to achieve a deal that would see Netanyahu remain in power for a certain period, before handing the post to Gantz.
However, no deal was reached so far, leading Gantz to request Saturday an extension to continue his negotiations. One of the key differences between the two sides was their position on the judiciary, where Netanyahu wants more control over the nomination of the judges, which Gantz refuses.
Rivlin responded in a statement "that in the current circumstances no extension would be possible."
The president "made this decision after also speaking to Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not confirm [he and Gantz] are close to signing an agreement that would lead to a unity government," the statement read.
If Netanyahu and Gantz do not come to an agreement by midnight Monday, "the mandate will be returned to the Knesset and a 21-day period will begin in which Knesset members will be able to form a majority for recommending an agreed-upon candidate," according to the presidency. This candidate will have 14 days to try to form a government.
Because the Netanyahu bloc has currently 59 of the Knesset's 120 seats, it is possible, though not certain, that parliament will give the premier a 14-day chance to form a government.
Netanyahu, who has been in office for more than 10 years now, was indicted in three corruption cases. He denies the charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust filed against him in January.
His critics say that he will do whatever in his power and capability to make the indictments disappear, including pushing for a fourth election to finally secure the majority needed to grant him immunity from prosecution.