ANALYSIS: What If Netanyahu Can’t Form a Government?

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With eight days left to establish a government, Binyamin Netanyahu has so far been unable to bridge gaps between his prospective coalition partners, notably between Shas and United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beytenu. Likud insiders quoted by Yediot Acharonot Monday blamed the parties for “climbing up a tree and refusing to come down” in demands for policy and portfolios – and if they did not begin to show flexibility, a frustrated Netanyahu would declare that he could not form a government and ask President Reuven Rivlin to call for new elections.

The party “does not reject the possibility that new elections should take place because of the deadlocked negotiations. If we do not make progress to a coalition agreement, that is what is going to happen,” the sources quoted by the report said, adding that Netanyahu was getting “fed up” with the incessant demands of the parties which he terms “unrealistic.”

Netanyahu mentioned the issue at a Cabinet meeting Sunday, telling ministers that “unfortunately the parties are still on their ‘treetops,’ each with their own demands. I hope we will be able to move forward and bring them all back to ground level so that we can achieve new goals together as a strong and stable government.”

If Netanyahu cannot produce a government by the May 29 deadline, he is supposed to report that to Rivlin, who will either declare new elections, or ask someone else to try and form a government – most likely Benny Gantz, who is unlikely to have any more success than Netanyahu is having. That individual will get 21 days to form a government. So far, Israel has had 20 governments, and there has never been an instance of a need for new elections because of negotiation deadlock.