Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he cannot establishment a new Israeli government and that he is returning the mandate to form a coalition to President Reuven Rivlin, paving the way for the first time in over a decade for a different candidate other than himself to try to create a government.
The premier made the announcement two days before his final deadline to present a coalition. Rivlin stated in response that he intends to tap the prime minister’s rival and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. He is expected to formally announce his decision within 72 hours, by Thursday evening.
Gantz, a former Israeli army chief of staff, will have 28 days to try to form a coalition. If the Gantz-led coalition talks also fail, any lawmaker backed by a majority of at least 61 Knesset members would be the next one to have a go at forming a coalition.
Should no other lawmaker be able to form a government, Israel will find itself heading for a third election within a year.
Netanyahu broke the news on social media. In a video published on his official Facebook page, the prime minister said: “Ever since receiving the mandate [to form a government] I have worked relentlessly … to establish a broad national unity government. This is what the people wants.”