Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday secured a new chance to resume his political career after President Reuven Rivlin tasked him with the formation of a new government after inconclusive elections on March 23.
However, Rivlin announced his choice stating that no candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the Knesset's confidence. A 61-seat majority is generally required to lead the Knesset. However, neither Netanyahu's Likud party nor the opposition leader Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party holds that much support.
Local media reported that during Rivlin's meetings with the 13 factions in the new Knesset, 52 ministers of Knesset (MK) from four factions recommended Netanyahu, while 45 MKs from five factions recommended Lapid. Yamina party endorsed its leader Naftali Bennett, while other sections did not back anyone.
The announcement comes a day after Netanyahu was summoned to the courts for corruption charges that he is being trialled for since May 2020 over three different cases of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
"According to the law and the decision of the courts, a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges. Because of that, I believed that the President should avoid deciding based on that consideration out of a sense of responsibility for the institution of the presidency and the trust in which it is held by all parts of the people," Rivlin said.
Rivlin has offered Netanyahu 28 days to form a government by the law that can be extended for two weeks. In case of failure to form a coalition within the prescribed time, the President can choose another candidate or task the Parliament with the choice.
Being in power since 2009, Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving leader with a record 12 consecutive years in office and also the first ruling PM to be charged with criminal offences.