Netanyahu is given first crack at forming new government
JERUSALEM — Israel’s president on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government, giving the longtime leader the difficult task of breaking a postelection deadlock that has paralyzed the country’s political system.
After a divisive campaign, Netanyahu called for a “broad unity government” with his chief rival former military chief Benny Gantz. But he faces an uphill struggle, with his future clouded by a likely corruption indictment and his opponents opposed to sitting with him.
President Reuven Rivlin announced his decision late Wednesday after a second meeting aimed at brokering a unity deal between Netanyahu and Gantz ended without an agreement.
Standing beside Rivlin, Netanyahu said it was clear that neither his Likud party nor Gantz’s Blue and White could put together a coalition on its own, and that the only option was to band together.
“The two of us cannot form a government unless we are together,” he said. “The order of the moment is a unity government, a broad national unity government that is formed quickly.”
In a statement, Gantz appeared to rebuff Netanyahu.
“Blue and White, led by me, does not agree to sit in a government whose leader is facing a severe indictment,” he said. “This issue, among a number of other critical factors, is more important to us than any delegation of ministerial posts or rotation.”
Rivlin said his decision was not a solution and that both candidates were responsible for resolving the political impasse.
Residents of the Mirpur district in Pakistan-controlled Kasmir examine a collapsed house Wednesday, the day after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the area. Officials said the death toll was at least 37 as they began distributing tents, food and water.