JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government by the midnight Tuesday deadline and returned the mandate he received from President Reuven Rivlin on April 6.
“Shortly before midnight, Netanyahu informed the President’s House that he had not been able to form a government and therefore he was returning the mandate to the president,” said a statement issued by the President’s House.
In the March 23 election, the right-wing Likud party led by Netanyahu gained 30 seats in the 120-member parliament (Knesset), but failed to form a coalition with the 61-seat majority.
Although right-wing parties won a large majority in the elections, some refuse to cooperate with Netanyahu due to ongoing quarrels.
“On Wednesday morning, the President’s House will be in contact with the factions regarding the continuation of the government formation process,” it added.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, the Likud faction in the parliament began promoting a series of bills, some of which aimed to increase the chances of Netanyahu remaining as prime minister.
The Likud faction promoted a law for holding separate direct election of the prime minister in the next elections, alongside the parliamentary elections. According to all polls, Netanyahu has a clear chance to win the direct election of the prime minister.
The Likud also tried to promote a law that would cancel the rotation agreement in the current government. Defense Minister Benny Gantz of the Blue and White faction is due to be appointed prime minister in November this year.
However, promoting these laws was stopped without the majority needed. The Likud was able to begin promoting laws that are considered right-wing, including the legalization of the West Bank settlements, and a law that would allow for bypassing Supreme Court rulings. The Likud also intends to promote a law to impose the death penalty for terrorists.
Political analysts said the Likud’s actions aim to cause a rift between other right-wing factions and their potential central and left-wing partners, thus preventing the formation of a government by these factions.