Israel seeks new PM as Netanyahu admits he cannot form coalition

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Israel seeks new PM as Netanyahu admits he cannot form coalition

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett hold talks with President Reuven Rivlin, but a fifth general election remains a distinct possibility

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Yair Lapid arrives at the Israeli president's residence (Photo: Beit HaNasi)
Yair Lapid arrives at the Israeli president's residence (Photo: Beit HaNasi)

Israelis are waiting to discover the identity of their next prime minister-designate after Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Tuesday night that he did not have enough support to form a government.

The longstanding prime minister told President Reuven Rivlin that he had not been able to gather the 61 MKs needed to pass a vote of confidence in the Knesset.

It means Rivlin must seek to find another candidate from among the politicians elected after the March 23 election, Israel’s fourth in two years.

He has set a deadline of 2pm local time (midday in the UK) for candidates to come forward before he makes his decision.

But with no faction in the Knesset commanding a route to a majority, a fifth general election remains a distinct possibility.

Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party placed a distant second behind Netanyahu’s Likud in the election, is the most likely to be given the task of forming a government.

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett meeting President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday morning (Photo: Beit HaNasi)

Lapid confirmed at a meeting with Rivlin on Wednesday morning that he wanted the role.

The only other candidate to express an interest is right-wing Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, who some have speculated could be a unity candidate, but his party only has 7 MKs.

In addition to Yesh Atid, the leaders of four other parties in the Knesset — New Hope, Yisrael Beiteinu, Meretz and Labour — have advised Rivlin appoint Lapid to the role.

A statement from Rivlin’s office said: “the president is considering inviting the other Knesset Members who are candidates for the role of forming the government to meet him, and to hear the views of all parties who are interested in stating them.

“This morning, the president will meet with Naftali Bennett MK and with Yair Lapid MK. During the day, additional meetings will be scheduled according to requests from party heads and at the president’s discretion.”


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