Unity government or a third election?

During the coming week, President Rivlin will meet with representatives of all the parties and ask who they recommend should be entrusted with the task of building a government. On September 25th either Netanyahu or Gantz will receive that mandate from the president. He will then have four weeks to establish a coalition.

Liberman has hinted that he might recommend Gantz, as he wished to see a unity government of only Netanyahu and Gantz without the ultra-orthodox parties. Netanyahu has asked to talk to Gantz about the possibilities of a unity government. He alluded to the 1984 elections which resulted in a broad unity government with rotation where Peres and Shamir served two years each as prime ministers. Gantz has spoken in favor of a unity government, but only under his leadership. The ultra-orthodox parties are in the process of asking their rabbis for permission to cooperate with the Blue White party of Benny Gantz. The harsh language and personal attacks of the election campaign is a fading memory, but will it be enough to lead to some sort of unity agreement? Will Liberman’s demands be met, or will the other parties succeed in circumventing him?

If Netanyahu receives the initial mandate and fails, that could be the end of his political career. Many are speculating that his Likud party could decide to depose him, as Gantz would be more willing to cooperate with the Likud party if Netanyahu is out of the picture. The investigations against Netanyahu are also creating question marks. Even if we need to presume innocence until the opposite can be proven, many are asking themselves if 70-year old Netanyahu really has the strength and ability to both lead a country and defend himself in a court case at the same time.

If the first choice of the president can’t reach a coalition agreement within four weeks, that is until October 23rd, he will need to ask for an extension which the president will likely grant. He then has until November 6th. If by then there is no government, there will be three days of talks with the president, and if no solution is reached, someone else will receive the mandate. Presumably either Gantz or Netanyahu. Some have speculated that it might be preferable to be the second choice and let the first one fail – but this is not necessarily true either as the first choice might be able to appoint heads of committees in the Knesset and push legislations during the time he has.

If the second choice fails to build a coalition by December 7th, it will be up to the newly elected Knesset to decide on a suitable candidate for the post of prime minister. If they can’t find someone that has the backing of at least 61 Knesset members within three weeks, which is until December 28th, then the Knesset has effectively dissolved itself and new elections must be held by March 31st the latest.

This could be the end of Netanyahu’s decade long rule. Time will tell.

“When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.” Proverbs 28:2