Report: Netanyahu to Seek Extension of Mandate in Wake of Meron Tragedy

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits Mount Meron, Friday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering requesting President Reuven Rivlin to extend his mandate to form a government in the wake of the Meron tragedy, Channel 12 reported.

Netanyahu’s mandate for forming a coalition expires on Tuesday at midnight. Rivlin, who has said earlier that he would be reluctant to grant Netanyahu an extension, is expected to assign the challenging task to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu visited the scene of the tragedy on Friday, announcing a national day of mourning.

“The Mount Meron disaster in one of the heaviest disasters to befall the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Establishing an independent commission of inquiry into the tragedy will also arise during government negotiations.

After police officials traded recriminations, the investigation was given to the Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID), with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordering to not take statements from the officers who were at the scene as part of a preliminary probe.

During his visit to the scene of the disaster, Netanyahu promised to lead a “thorough, earnest and in-depth investigation to ensure that such a disaster does not happen again.”

However, the prime minister did not promise an independent public inquiry which governments often prefer to avoid.

The government also has the option to launch a government inquiry, whose powers are much more limited. For example, a government inquiry cannot subpoena witnesses, unlike a public inquiry, unless expressly authorized to do so in a government decision. In both cases, the PIID investigation will be put to a halt.

The tragic occurrence came as Israel remains mired in a coalitional crisis following four inconclusive elections in two years.