Despite the fact that no party leader has enough votes to form a government, Israel’s president has given the job to unpopular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a corruption trial.
Reuven Rivlin’s announcement on Tuesday pushed the twin dramas over Israel’s future and Netanyahu’s fate forward, giving Israel’s longest-serving prime minister a second chance to save his career.
Netanyahu has the most votes in Israel’s splintered Knesset (52 seats), but he falls short of a 61-seat majority.
If there is one thing that the warring political groups agree on, it is that Israel does not have to go through a fifth election in a row.
“No candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset,” Rivlin said, adding if the law allowed, he would have given the decision back to the Knesset to resolve.
“I know the position held by many, that the president should not give the role to a candidate that is facing criminal charges,” Rivlin said. But the law says he must.
“Benjamin Netanyahu has a slightly higher chance of forming a government. I have decided to entrust him with the task of doing so.”