Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline on Tuesday to put together a new coalition government.
President Reuven Riviln can now give the task of forming a government to another member of Israel’s parliament, since the deadline has now passed. This could result in Netanyahu’s Likud Party being put in the opposition for the first time in 12 years.
“Shortly before midnight, Netanyahu informed Beit HaNasi (President Rivin’s office) that he was unable to form a government and so returned the mandate to the president,” a statement from Rivlin said.
Rivlin may now decide to give Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, the chance to form a government. Lapid, a former news anchor, is a staunch critic of Netanyahu.
Israel has been in political limbo, with voters heading to the ballot box four times over the last two years as leaders struggle to form a stable governing coalition.
If no other parliament member is able to form a government, elections will be held for a fifth time.
Tne end of the Netanyahu era?
Netanyahu, 71, has served as Israel’s Prime Minister since 2009, making him the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history. He also served in that role from 1996 to 1999.
Netanyahu served in the Israeli military, seeing active combat during the War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. He also spent part of his life in the US, where he studied architecture at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Netanyahu is a hawk towards Iran, and has frequent criticized Tehran for its nuclear aspirations. He has also rejected the idea of a separate state for the Palestinian people.
wd/rt (AP, Reuters)
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