Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a governing coalition by the May 4 deadline, returning the mandate to President Reuven Rivlin, who will now likely grant the opposition a chance to form an alternative government.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party was, by far, the largest among all Israeli political parties in the March elections. But he could not cobble together enough parties to form a 61-seat majority needed to govern. No Israeli political party has ever won outright.
Shortly before midnight, Netanyahu informed Beit HaNasi that he was unable to form a government and returned the mandate to the president.
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday 5 May/23 Iyyar, Beit HaNasi will contact the parties in the Knesset regarding the process of forming a government
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) May 4, 2021
Under Israel’s Basic Law, which serves as a quasi-constitution, the president of the country — who otherwise has little more than a ceremonial role — grants a “mandate” to the leader of the party most likely to be able to form a governing coalition.
Last month, Netanyahu’s opponents also seemed to have fallen short of a governing majority. But the project of ousting the long-term incumbent — already the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history — may have inspired new alliances.
Former Netanyahu aide Naftali Bennett, who leads the right-wing Yamina party, may lead a center-left coalition to replace Netanyahu, having apparently abandoned his promises not to join a government that included the Arab Ra’am party.
There is a chance that the anti-Netanyahu coalition will fall short after 28 days. Rivlin could then ask the Knesset itself to choose a prime minister and a government, or — more likely — Israel would hold its fifth parliamentary elections since 2019.
Recent debates in Israel have been overshadowed by Netanyahu’s criminal trial on charges of corruption that conservatives have derided as a flimsy pretext for Israel’s version of the “Deep State” to oust a populist and effective political leader.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, We Told You So!: The First 100 Days of Joe Biden’s Radical Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.