Israel: Netanyahu deadline to form government expires

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Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony for fallen soldiers of Israel"s wars at the Yad Lebanim House on the eve of Memorial Day, in Jerusalem, April 13, 2021

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A deadline for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government has expired.

He had been trying for the past 28 days to build a coalition after the fourth inconclusive general election in two years, but the deadline ended at midnight on Wednesday (22:00 GMT).

President Reuven Rivlin could now formally ask another political leader to try to assemble a coalition.

But this could risk the country going to the polls once again.

This will be a blow for Mr Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, but after the inconclusive result of the last general election in March, it is an outcome that was widely predicted, the BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem.

President Rivlin could now give another member of parliament 28 days to try to build a new government.

That is expected to be Yair Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party came second to Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud in the last vote.

He would face a challenge to bridge wide ideological differences between the parties he could ask to join a coalition.

If a nominee asked by the president proves unable to put together a government, he can task parliament with selecting a candidate. If it cannot, Israel will hold another election.

A long period of political stalemate in Israel has been complicated by Mr Netanyahu’s ongoing trial for corruption, which he denies. His rivals argue he should not remain in office while facing criminal charges.

Mr Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving leader, having led five governments since 1996. The last, which saw him share power with the then-main opposition party to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, collapsed in December, triggering the latest elections.

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Source Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-56989751

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