After a fourth inconclusive national election last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government by the end of the day Tuesday.
He had until Tuesday midnight to form a coalition or allow President Reuven Rivlin to choose a rival to help form a unity government. Rivlin is likely to meet with party officials about how to proceed.
Though Netanyahu has previously negotiated late-night agreements against the odds during his record 12-year tenure as Israeli Prime Minister, the opposition to him and his nationalist coalition has become stronger.
Former supporters, such as conservative Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett and New Hope Party chief Gideon Sa’ar, have flatly dismissed Netanyahu and his Likud Party’s overtures.
Following the April 2020 election, Netanyahu reached a power-sharing deal with Blue and White challenger Benny Gantz, in which Gantz was promised the position of prime minister. The contract, though, fell through after just a few months. Gantz’s party disintegrated, and Netanyahu retained his position as Prime Minister.
This period, Gantz has flatly declined to accept a re-do. As Netanyahu promised Bennett a year as prime minister in order to crack this year’s unity cabinet deadlock, he was greeted with scepticism.
“Nobody believes a single word [Netanyahu] says; there isn’t a single sap in the entire political establishment who will agree to any arrangement with him,” Maariv newspaper political analyst Ben Caspit told The Washington Post. “He is going to need a miracle to create a new rabbit.”
Rivlin could switch to Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid on Wednesday or Thursday to form a party, but it’s unclear if the moderate will be able to form a coalition without Arab support, which could alienate certain members of his existing coalition.
Netanyahu is now on trial in Jerusalem on charges of extortion, theft, and breach of confidence. Opponents suspect him of attempting to expand his rule in order to exert control on the legal process, such as by attempting to enact laws that would exclude serving prime ministers from prosecution.