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Netanyahu’s chances boosted by Arabs rejecting Lapid

CM 05/04/2021 1

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s efforts to receive the first mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to form a government received a boost on Monday morning, when the Hadash Party in the Joint List announced that none of its three MKs would endorse opposition leader Yair Lapid. 
Netanyahu has the support of the 52 MKs of Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Religious Zionist Party. Ra’am (United Arab List) could decide to give Netanyahu four more.    
After Blue and White announced that its eight MKs will endorse Lapid, he will have the support of 45, including representatives of Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Meretz.
Two of the three parties in the Joint List – Hadash and Balad – have rejected Lapid, but Ta’al, which has two MKs, has not decided yet. Lapid called Ta’al leader Ahmad Tibi to ask for his support, which together with New Hope’s six, could give Lapid 53, one more than Netanyahu.
Yamina’s representatives, MK Ayelet Shaked and Matan Kahana, recommended their leader, Naftali Bennett. When Rivlin asked who their second choice was, they refused to answer but expressed interest in receiving the next mandate to form a government from Rivlin if the first candidate does not succeed.
“Naftali Bennett has the best chance of forming a government,” Shaked said 
When Yesh Atid’s representatives came and argued that Lapid should receive the mandate, Rivlin pointed out that Netanyahu received nearly twice as many votes. 

“I don’t see at the moment how Lapid could form a government,” Rivlin told them.
A source close to Rivlin told The Jerusalem Post at the President’s Residence that when Rivlin made that point, he did not know yet that Hadash had decided against backing Lapid moments before. 
Rivlin warned representatives of Blue and White that there could end up needing to be a fifth election.
Blue and White’s backing for Lapid came more than a year after the party split up in a fight between its leaders, Benny Gantz and Lapid. Gantz held back with his endorsement until now and considered backing Yamina head Naftali Bennett instead in an effort to prevent Netanyahu from forming the next government.
“We will continue to do all we can to ensure that an honest government will be formed and that the mandate will not go to Netanyahu, who is busy with his trial,” Gantz said. “I call on the entire change bloc to recommend MK Lapid to prevent Netanyahu from receiving the mandate.”
Lapid thanked Gantz, saying his party’s support was “part of the healing and the change that the State of Israel needs so much.”
Rivlin began his consultations with the 13 Knesset factions at the president’s residence on Monday morning. The first to arrive were Likud representatives, Amir Ohana, Tzachi Hanegbi and Ophir Akunis, who formally recommended Netanyahu to form the government and argued with Rivlin for more than half an hour.  
“The main consideration that will guide me is entrusting a Knesset Member with the task who has the best chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the new Knesset,” Rivin said. “This is how all previous Israeli presidents have acted, this is how I acted in previous elections and this is how I will act now.”
Ohana objected and said that the March 23 election was a clear victory for Netanyahu and Likud. He pointed out that the only time in recent memory that a party leader was chosen to form a government who did not receive the most votes was when Kadima beat Likud by only one seat in 2009 and Netanyahu was asked to form a government by then-President Shimon Peres, rather than Kadima head Tzipi Livni.
“The Likud is by far the largest faction and Prime Minister Netanyahu will have the most recommendations, so there is no doubt he will have the best chance to build a government,” Ohana told reporters after meeting Rivlin.
Rivlin will be meeting with the factions in order of size, starting with Likud, followed by Yesh Atid, Shas, Blue and White, Yamina, United Torah Judaism, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu, the Religious Zionist Party, Joint List, New Hope, Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List).
The president will announce who will receive his mandate either on Tuesday, when the new Knesset will be sworn in, or on Wednesday, taking into account which candidate received the most recommendations but deciding based on who could best form a stable government.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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