After Gantz Fails to Form Government, Israel in Political Mayhem
Israel entered uncharted political waters Wednesday night when centrist Blue and White leader Benny Gantz informed President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed to form a government by a midnight deadline. Jerusalem has now been thrust into an unprecedented situation in which any parliamentarian over the next 21 days can attempt to cobble together a 61-member majority coalition. If such were to occur, Rivlin would have 48 hours to give that lawmaker a two-week mandate to finalize agreements with prospective partners. However, in the likely scenario that the political impasse still cannot be bridged, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, will effectively be disbanded and citizens will head to the polls within about 90 days for the third election in less than a year. Additional turmoil is expected as Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is set to announce any day now whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be indicted in any of three criminal cases against him concerning alleged corruption. Some have postulated that he prefers another round of elections, as in the interim he would remain caretaker prime minister, and Israeli law does not require a person holding this post to automatically step down when indicted. If he wins the election and becomes prime minister once more, his legal problems could become a distant memory for large chunks of the electorate, and thereby boost his chances of weathering the legal storm in the long run.