President Reuven Rivlin will not hold further discussions with party heads after Netanyahu’s mandate expires Tuesday at midnight. This information came from officials in the President’s office who said that the mandate goes to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
It seemed unlikely that Rivlin would give the mandate to Bennett because the president viewed any effort on Bennett’s part to form a government with the Likud would be “more of the same” of the past month.
After Netanyahu’s mandate expires, the president will have three days to make his move. If Rivlin is concerned that Lapid has no chance of forming a government, he could give the mandate to the Knesset.
Lapid’s camp very much want the president’s mandate due to fears that Bennett will “flee” to the right-wing bloc. Lapid said this week he would not concede the president’s mandate to Bennett.
Netanyahu said it was imperative that Israelis stop with the boycotting of specific people and parties, “and we must make sure the infighting within the right does not prevent a right-wing government from being formed; we must not let the disaster of the Left and Oslo Accords repeat itself.”
Netanyahu then made the suggestion that Bennett would serve as prime minister with almost immediate effect: “I told him that in order to prevent the rise of the left-wing government, I would agree to his suggestion of having a rotation deal in which he would serve as prime minister for the first year. The Yamina faction members would be integrated into the Knesset and the government and if, G-d forbid, we end up failing to form a government, we will run on a joint ticket [in an early election] with each party preserving its relative strength.”
Bennett shot back after Netanyahu’s post, saying, “I never asked for the premiership, I just asked Netanyahu to form a right-wing government, which we would have supported.”