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Rivlin hands Netanyahu mandate to form coalition despite low chance of success

CM 06/04/2021

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President Reuven Rivlin gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a coalition on Tuesday morning, after the Likud leader received the most recommendations from his fellow members of Knesset.

Rivlin signed a letter of appointment, giving Netanyahu 28 days to form a government. He did not invite Netanyahu to his office to receive the mandate.
In his speech, Rivlin lamented that he could not have imagined when he was elected seven years ago that he would appoint a candidate to form a government five times during his term. He said his main consideration must be who can best form a government that would receive the trust of the Knesset and that no candidate can currently obtain a majority of the Knesset.
“I am under the impression that none of the candidates have a chance to form a coalition,” Rivlin said. 

Rivlin said that it is problematic to appoint a candidate with a criminal indictment and on trial, but the Supreme Court has ruled it permissible so he decided to stay out of that debate.
“The president cannot replace the legislators,” Rivlin said. “The decision to prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government is the Knesset’s decision.”

He said that he decided not to take Netanyahu’s ongoing trial into consideration out of a desire to protect the office of the president which “receives the trust of the public.” In Rivlin’s consultations with the 13 factions in the new Knesset, 52 MKs from four factions recommended Netanyahu, while 45 from five factions recommended Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. Yamina recommended its leader, Naftali Bennett; Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and the two Arab factions didn’t recommend anyone.

Lapid responded that he understood the president’s decision and could not object.
“The president had no choice,” Lapid said. “But giving the mandate to Netanyahu is shameful and stains Israel as a law abiding state.” 

“Despite his statement yesterday, Rivlin apparently did not give significant enough weight to the value considerations in choosing the mandate,” said the Movement for Quality Government in response to Rivlin’s decision. “Given the constraints of the dry law to which he is subject and which he expanded on in his statement, it would have been better for him to resign and not make an unprecedented move of allowing a criminal defendant to form a government.”
The movement stressed that the High Court of Justice had ruled that Netanyahu could only serve as prime minister if he reached a conflict of interest settlement, something which has not yet been done. “A criminal accused who is on trial is in a daily conflict of interest and is in no way qualified to serve as prime minister,” said the movement.
The decision by Yamina and New Hope not to recommend Lapid was aimed at obtaining the mandate from Rivlin for Bennett if Netanyahu fails to form a government during the 28 days he has now been given by Rivlin.
Meanwhile, Yamina and Yesh Atid have started negotiating a unity government deal in which Bennett would serve as prime minister for the first two years and Lapid the final two and a half years. Yamina’s negotiating team is led by strategists Tal Gan-Zvi and Shalom Shlomo, and Yesh Atid’s by veteran Lapid adviser Hillel Kubrinsky.
The two sides did not reach an agreement on how to share power and divide portfolios in initial talks, which prevented an agreement from being reached in time for Monday’s consultations with Rivlin.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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