Ne­tanyahu is given first crack at form­ing new gov­ern­ment

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

AAMIR QURESHI/GETTY-AFP

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.

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