President Reuven Rivlin formally tasked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with forming a government on Thursday, just a few hours after 72 members of Knesset signed their names endorsing him for Prime Minister once again.
“According to the request of a majority of Knesset members … I hereby notify you that you have 14 days to form a government,” Rivlin wrote in an official letter to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Gantz issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying they plan to swear in the new government in a week’s time, May 13.
Barring the unforeseen—hard to do in Israeli politics—Netanyahu will serve 18 months as PM, then switch places with Benny Gantz, who will be Deputy PM and Defense Minister until then.
But all this will happen at the same time that the nation will witness the unprecedented spectacle of an incumbent Prime Minister put on trial for bribery and breach of trust. Even though Netanyahu’s physical presence will not be required for the most of the proceedings, it will undoubtedly cast a shadow on the land.
As MK Yair Lapid gladly pointed out on Thursday:
“This morning in the Knesset, Benny Gantz and [Blue and White No.2] Gabi Ashkenzi gathered signatures to recommend that the president task Netanyahu with forming the next government. They want to form a government within a week because in two weeks, Netanyahu’s trial starts. Within a week they will swear allegiance to him; in two weeks he will be on trial for breach of trust. They call it an emergency government when the emergency is over. They talk about unity, but don’t trust one another.”
Lapid, who spent much of the past winter defaming the chareidi community, has lately been training his vituperation on his former ally Benny Gantz.
The latter has been restrained in response. He’s been fully occupied organizing a unity government, while Lapid has been relegated once again to the opposition.