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Netanyahu faces a deadline to form a new government.


Netanyahu faces a deadline to form a new government.

Screen Shot 2021 05 01 at 11 25 10 AM
Photo: Debbie Hill/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has until midnight to form a new government.

Israel’s last election on March 23—its fourth since April 2019—saw no party win enough seats to form a governing majority in its parliament, the Knesset. Consequently, President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with the job of creating a coalition. Should he fail to do so before his mandate expires, Rivlin will assign the job to another member of the Knesset—likely the center-left Future Party Chairman Yair Lapid. If this effort fails as well, Israel will hold yet another election.

The outcome of today’s negotiations could seal the fate of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and dramatically shift the balance of power in the Knesset. A key factor is whether Netanyahu will incorporate the Arab and Islamist Ra’am party—which won an unprecedented five seats in March—into his coalition. However, since several of the Prime Minister’s ultra-nationalist allies oppose cooperation with Ra’am, it is unlikely that Netanyahu will succeed.

If today’s efforts fail and either the opposition parties succeed in forming a government or another round of elections favor the opposition, Israel will inaugurate a new era of liberal governance.

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