Gantz given two-day extension to attempt to form government


As Israel heads into the second part of the Jewish holiday of Passover later today, last night, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, acting on a joint request by Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz and Likud leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, give a two-day extension of Gantz’s mandate to form a government, until Wednesday night. This is much shorter than the two weeks he requested and likely indicates Rivlin wants to push the process of coalition negotiations to a swift conclusion.

For some time now, Gantz and Netanyahu have been reportedly close to an agreement on a rotational national unity government that would have Netanyahu serve as prime minister for the first 18 months, to be followed by Gantz for the remainder of the government’s term.

Among the last issues reportedly holding up the agreement, however, is the composition of the Knesset committee that deals with judicial appointments.

Should Gantz’ mandate to form a government expire, President Rivlin would have the option of giving the mandate to Netanyahu, though Netanyahu lacks the recommendations of a majority of the 120-member Knesset. Rivlin also has the option of sending the mandate back to the Knesset, an option which he is believed to prefer based on past statements.

If the mandate goes to the Knesset, there are 21 for a majority of MKs to support one candidate as prime minister, or Israel goes to its fourth straight election. If the Knesset finds such a candidate, he’ll have 14 days to form a government, if he fails, again, Israel will have to go to another election, probably in September.