Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the country’s president that he has been unable to form the government, BBC reported on Tuesday. Netanyahu, who has been in power for a decade, did not get a clear majority after elections in the country in September.
The prime minister’s political rival, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party, will now be asked to attempt to form the government. Netanyahu, who made the announcement on Monday, two days before the deadline, said his efforts to form a “broad national unity government” with Gantz’s party had also failed, according to The Guardian.
“In the course of recent weeks, I made every effort in order to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table, every effort in order to establish a wide national government, every effort to prevent additional elections,” Netanyahu said in a video statement, CNN reported. “Unfortunately, time after time he simply refused.”
In the elections last month, Netanyahu’s Likud party won 32 seats while Gantz’s Blue and White party secured 33 seats out of the 120-seat legislature. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin chose Netanyahu as he was the incumbent and assumed to be better placed to form a coalition.
Rivlin will now give 28 days to Gantz to conduct the same negotiations to form the government.
Israel’s president called for a so-called unity alliance of the two main parties, adding that he wanted to avoid another election in the country that had already voted twice this year. In case Gantz failed to form the government, the Parliament could field a third candidate as an attempt to avoid going to polls.
This is the first time in more than 10 years that a leader besides Netanyahu would get a chance to head the Israeli government. “The time for spin is over and it is now time for action,” Gantz’s party tweeted. “Blue and White is determined to form the liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for a month ago.”
Gantz has previously served as Israel’s military chief under Netanyahu’s term as prime minister. He formed his party in February, saying that the country had “lost its way”.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is facing corruption allegations. However, he has pleaded innocence in the matter. If he is formally accused, it could deal a further blow to the political and personal appearance of Israel’s longest-serving leader.
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