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Netanyahu plans to make last ditch effort to form government, says Likud party

Bloomberg Jerusalem | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister   -  REUTERS

Israel has held two inconclusive elections in less than a year

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said that he will make a last ditch effort to form a government after the elections, that were held this month, produced a parliamentary stalemate.

Talks on Sunday morning with the rival Blue and White party, to form a unity government, ended unsuccessfully. Netanyahu might return his mandate from President Reuven Rivlin if negotiations fail, Likud said.

Rivlin would likely turn to Benny Gantz, the former general and leader of Blue and White, to try to form a government. The presidents attempts to glue the two big parties together in a power-sharing deal havent worked so far, but their negotiating teams and leaders will meet again on Wednesday.

Israel has held two inconclusive elections in less than a year, resulting in the political paralysis that may continue through the end of the year at a time of mounting diplomatic and regional security challenges.

Netanyahu is also facing the prospect of being brought to trial on corruption charges. His legal woes may have given him an added incentive to stay in power, amid speculation hes been seeking to pass a law that would shield an incumbent leader from prosecution.

Netanyahu’s Likud party slightly trailed Blue and White in the September 17 election, but he had a slim lead when the factions were asked to recommend their choice for premier to Rivlin. Nearly two weeks on, little progress has been made in resolving the political stalemate.

To assemble a majority in parliament, Netanyahu’s options are to secure a power-sharing pact, peel off lawmakers from the rival camp, or win the endorsement of former Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Liberman’s refusal to join Netanyahu’s coalition after Aprils election led to the do-over vote, and he has called for a unity government. Netanyahu resisted Liberman’s calls to cut ultra-Orthodox military draft exemptions and has courted religious parties in the country.

Gantz has said that Blue and White will not sit in a government whose potential leader is facing a serious indictment.

Netanyahu allegedly received expensive gifts from wealthy businessmen and is accused of reshaping the countrys communications landscape to benefit a media mogul in return for sympathetic coverage. Hes denied the allegations and said they are politically motivated.

His hearing before Israels attorney general, Avihai Mandelblit, is scheduled to begin on October 2.

Published on September 30, 2019
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