Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday suffered a stinging – and surprising – blow during parliament’s first vote since the March election, losing control of the legislature’s key Organizing Committee, which governs parliament until a government is formed. Netanyahu, who thought he had the required majority to decide the makeup of the temporary committee, thereby controlling which bills are introduced in parliament in the coming weeks, discovered much to his chagrin and on live television that his rivals, a coalition of right-wing, centrist, and left-wing parties, had outwitted him and secured control of the crucial forum instead. The embattled premier still has two weeks left to form a government, though the odds of him fusing his extreme-rightist allies with the open-for-business United Arab List are dwindling by the day. If and when Netanyahu’s time runs out, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will decide whether to hand another candidate, presumably Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, a shot at establishing a government, or pass the decision to parliament itself, essentially ensuring Israel’s fifth election in two and a half years.
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