Rivlin Prepared to Ask Lapid to Form Government

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As the prospects for a coalition led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ have dwindled to almost nothing, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid seemed on Thursday to have a shot after all.

President Reuven Rivlin is inclined to give Lapid the mandate to form a government if Netanyahu fails to do so, The Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to the president as saying.

Technically, Rivlin can grant Netanyahu another two weeks after the initial 28 days have run out, but is very unlikely to do so, especially considering that Netanyahu has reportedly given up on building a ruling majority and is now intent on passing a law for a direct election for prime minister. Banking on polls that consistently show him a clear favorite for PM among the electorate, he expects to win and serve again even without a parliamentary majority. That, however, might require another amendment to the Basic Law, which is far from guaranteed.

Although Rivlin had initially indicated that he would not give a second mandate, but would refer it to the Knesset, he is said to have changed his mind.

Meanwhile, Lapid has been working on getting the 61 MKs to form a government.

In his talks with Naftali Bennett, he reportedly has offered the latter to go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office. But disputes over the allocation of ministerial portfolios have held up negotiations.

The coalition formed by Bennett and Lapid would include the 58 MKs of their parties, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Meretz and New Hope.

Lapid was supposed to meet United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni next Monday in an effort to seek his support from outside the coalition, but the meeting was postponed for what they called technical reasons.