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  • Netanyahu is negotiating terms with nearly all the right-wing, nationalist and religious parties that form his outgoing government.

    Netanyahu is negotiating terms with nearly all the right-wing, nationalist and religious parties that form his outgoing government. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 May 2019

On Monday, Israeli Knesset passed a preliminary motion to dissolve itself.

Time is running out for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as his attempt to muster support from Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu to form a right-wing coalition is failing. On Monday, Israeli Knesset passed a preliminary motion to dissolve itself.

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As the May 29 deadline approaches to present their coalition, Netanyahu’s latest talks with Liberman, only lasted 22 minutes and ended once again without a breakthrough, according to a Likud official. Yet the far-right leader is hopeful that “a lot can be done in 48 hours,” stating that “voters’ wishes can be respected, a strong right-wing government can be formed.”

However, this seems unlikely as the former Defense Minister Liberman, leader of the secularist party, has not agreed on the right-wing coalition over the ultra-orthodox refusals to allow men to serve in the military.

Meanwhile, 65 lawmakers voted in favor of dissolving the parliament, 43 opposed it and six abstained. The Likud-headed bill will require three more votes to trigger snap elections, proposed to be held on August 27.  Experts are saying this is a strategy to pressure Liberman and to prevent President Reuven Rivlin from appointing a new party leader to try their luck at forming a coalition.

 

According to the Israeli legislative process, after results were announced, all parties with representation submitted their chosen prime ministerial candidate to Rivlin. The head of state assigned the job of forming a coalition to a party leader he believed has the best chance of forming a coalition, which in turn was Netanyahu.

The candidate doesn’t have to be from the party that gained the most number of seats. It depends on the most likely person able to form a coalition. Yet the nominee has up to 42 days to form a government before the president asks another politician to try.

Blue and White’s leader Benny Gantz, the opposition majority party, said that he should be given a chance. “My friends in Blue and White and I maintain that the responsibility for forming a government should be given over to the only existing alternative — the party that I lead,” the centrist politician said.

As in Netanyahu’s case, Gantz will unlikely gather enough backing to form the 61-seat majority needed in the 120-seat Knesset, as he has ruled out a collation with Arab lawmakers, the ultra-orthodox far-right, and right-wing parties. Without anyone securing this majority, Israelis will have to head to the polls once again in less than a year, representing a hard political blow to Netanyahu.

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