Left to right in this composite photo: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, and Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White alliance of centrist parties. (Jack Guez, Jalaa Marey, Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli President Pulling Out All Stops to Facilitate Unity Government

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin acknowledges that he has his work cut out for him, but he also makes clear that he will do whatever he can to avoid sending the nation to the polls for a third time in a single year. Part of that equation is Rivlin’s assertion that neither incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu nor rival Benny Gantz have a clear path to the necessary 61 or more parliamentary seats required in order to build a ruling coalition. Most believe the ultimate result will be a unity government that includes a power-sharing arrangement whereby each man will serve as premier for half the term and presumably defense minister for the other half. That scenario is additionally problematic because Gantz, a newcomer to politics, cut a deal many call an amateur mistake when he agreed with Yair Lapid, one of his Blue-and-White party partners, to share the term as prime minister with him. Lapid is the weak-link in the Blue-and-White hierarchy and brought little to the electoral success, but the power-share arrangement remains. Netanyahu, meanwhile, who is the nation’s longest-serving prime minister ever at 3 + 10 years, had hoped a record fifth term would provide some mechanism for crawling out from under the specter of corruption indictments hanging over his head. Most agree that is no longer a viable wish. On Wednesday, the president will bring the two candidates back for another round of talks and hopefully resolution to the issue.

 

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