May 4 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running out of time to form a unity government by day’s end Tuesday after a fourth inconclusive national election that ended last month.
While Netanyahu has brokered late deals against the odds before in his record 12-year run as Israeli prime minister, the opposition against him and his conservative coalition has hardened.
Former allies, like conservative Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett and New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa’ar, have wholly rejected overtures from Netanyahu and his Likud Party.
After the April 2020 election, Netanyahu formed a power-sharing agreement with Blue and White rival Benny Gantz in which Gantz was promised to serve as prime minister. That deal, though, fell apart within months. Gantz’s party crumbled and Netanyahu remained prime minister.
This time Gantz has refused any consideration of a do-over. When Netanyahu offered Bennett a year as prime minister to break this year’s unity government deadlock, it was met with a lack of seriousness.
“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 likely turn to Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid on Wednesday or Thursday to form a party but it’s not clear that the centrist would be able to pull together a coalition without Arab support, a move that could turn off some in his current coalition.
Netanyahu remains on trial in Jerusalem on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. Foes have accused him of seeking to extend his rule in order to influence the judicial process, such as trying to pass legislation that would make sitting prime ministers immune from prosecution.