Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday handed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a government but cautioned it was not likely the premier would be successful because he lacked support.
Rivlin has given Netanyahu 28 days to form a government but the recurring election deadlock makes it unlikely Netanyahu will succeed.
No party leader in Israel has gained enough support to secure the 61-seat majority needed to form a coalition.
“I am under the impression that none of the candidates have a chance to form a coalition,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin noted the absurdity of being tasked with appointing a candidate to form a government five times during his term as president which began seven years ago. Israel held its fourth national election in two years last month, and a fifth looks increasingly likely.
Fifty-two members of Knesset from four parties recommended Netanyahu, while 45 from five parties recommended Netanyahu-rival and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid.
The rightwing Yamina party, which scored seven seats, recommended its leader and kingmaker Naftali Bennett. Likud defector Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party as well as the two Arab parties that cleared the electoral threshold, Ra’am and Joint List, declined to recommend anyone.
Rivlin noted the “moral and ethical” problem with asking Netanyahu to form a government, in light of the Israeli leader’s corruption trial.
“I know the position held by many, that the president should not give the role to a candidate that is facing criminal charges. But according to the law and the decision of the courts, a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges,” he said.
“The president of the State of Israel is not a substitute for the legislature or for the judiciary,” added Rivlin.
Netanyahu attended the first day of testimony in his corruption trial on Monday, accusing the left and the judiciary of mounting a coup attempt.
Israel’s longest serving prime minister, Netanyahu has been in office since 2009 and also served a previous term from 1996-1999.