Netanyahu tells president he can’t form government; now it’s Gantz’s turn to try

Rivlin’s office says he intends to task Blue and White leader with assembling a coalition; PM blames Gantz for failed negotiations

21 October 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening announced he had failed to muster a coalition after almost four weeks of effort, and therefore returned the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu’s 28-day deadline for building a government was due to expire on Wednesday.

Rivlin is now expected, probably on Tuesday morning, to charge Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz with the task of trying to muster a coalition that can win a Knesset majority. Blue and White said it was determined to build the “liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for.”

Gantz now has 28 days to try and do what Netanyahu could not. If he fails, any MK will have 21 days to obtain the support of a Knesset majority to form a government. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.

At the end of May, after trying in vain for six weeks to build a coalition, Netanyahu called new elections rather than allow Gantz the chance to do so. Monday evening’s move to return the mandate to Rivlin followed repeated pledges by Likud that Netanyahu would not again dissolve parliament without letting his rival attempt to muster a majority.