Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to secure a governing coalition despite weeks of negotiations after the March election, leaving President Reuven Rivlin to decide whether to pass the job to another candidate.
Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline on Wednesday to pull together a majority coalition in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, following weeks of wrangling between his Likud party and smaller players.
Rivlin, who has three days to consult with lawmakers to determine a path forward, could allow the PM an extra two weeks to ink a unity deal, though it remains unclear whether he will do so, as Netanyahu has failed to form a government three times over the last two years.
“Netanyahu informed the President’s Residence that he was unable to form a government and so returned the mandate to the president,” Rivlin’s office said in a statement, noting that the president would meet with party leaders on Wednesday morning.
Though Netanyahu could have requested an extension from the president ahead of the deadline, he instead issued a statement blasting the right-wing Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, who’s flirted with joining forces with Yair Lapid’s center-left Yesh Atid party.
“Due to Bennett’s refusal to promise to only form a government with the right… the prime minister has returned the mandate to the president,” Netanyahu’s office said.