Not optimistic, Israeli president gives PM Benjamin Netanyahu mandate to form coalition gov't

April 6 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while he faces a political corruption trial, is getting the first shot at trying to form a new coalition government — as he was handed the mandate by President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.

Rivlin signed a letter of appointment giving Netanyahu the mandate to form a coalition in the next 28 days. The prime minister received the most recommendations from members of the Knesset.


Netanyahu has no clear path to a new government and Rivlin said it’s likely that no one will be able to find an alliance.

“I am under the impression that none of the candidates have a chance to form a coalition,” he said in a report by The Jerusalem Post.

Rivlin called his mandate a choice he was obligated to make, acknowledging that the public believes the president “should not give the role to a candidate who is facing criminal charges.”

“This is not an easy decision on a moral and ethical basis, in my mind,” Rivlin said in a report by the Times of Israel. “I fear for my country. But I am doing what is required of me as president of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu faces multiple counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The charges stem from accusations that Netanyahu effectively bought positive media coverage, although he has denied wrongdoing. He appeared in court Monday to face the charges.

Netanyahu faces three separate cases involving alleged efforts to control Israeli media. He’s accused of making government policies favoring one particular media company, at a value of more than $500 million, in exchange for positive coverage.

Some groups argue that Netanyahu should resign as prime minister given the amount of time the trial is expected to take.

Netanyahu did not attend a meeting with Rivlin Tuesday for the announcement, as is tradition. He didn’t receive an invitation.

“The president cannot replace the legislators,” Rivlin added. “The decision to prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government is the Knesset’s decision.”

Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party, said that Rivlin had no choice but to give Netanyahu the mandate. He tweeted, however, that it’s a “shameful sign of disgrace that is a stain on Israel and casts an embarrassing shadow on our status as a law-abiding state.”

Lapid finished second to Netanyahu in the number of recommendations to receive the mandate.

The mandate is the result of Israel’s fourth election in less than two years. Neither Netanyahu nor opposition leader Benny Gantz could find a ruling coalition after the first two elections, and a power-sharing agreement that followed the third fell apart in December.

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