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Israel heads for its fifth legislative elections in two years




Benyamin Netanyahu forced to throw in the towel (photo: Israeli government)
Benyamin Netanyahu forced to throw in the towel (photo: Israeli government)
ISRAEL. Appointed in early April 2021 by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to form a government, Benyamin Netanyahu has failed. He came out on top in the parliamentary elections of March 23, 2021, but with only 30 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset. The outgoing Prime Minister had until Wednesday, May 5, 2021, to find alliances that would give him a majority (at least 61 deputies needed) in parliament. His popularity is tainted by several court cases directly involving him, and one of the trials was even held during the negotiations.

Without a political solution - Naftali Bennet (Yamina - radical right) having even refused to rotate power with him (an option proposed at the end of March 2020 by Benny Gantz to Benyamin Netanyahu) -, the number one of the Likud (right) had to throw in the towel on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, "shortly before midnight", as stated in a press release from the Israeli presidency.

Benyamin Netanyahu (71 years old) has therefore returned his mandate to Reven Rivlin, who will have to find another candidate for the post of Prime Minister. He will therefore consult the thirteen party leaders sitting in the Knesset. Yair Lapid has volunteered to take on this role. His centrist party Yesh Atid ("there is a future") came second in the parliamentary elections in March 2021, so logic would dictate that the President give him the mandate.

28 days to form a government

The fifty-seven-year-old former journalist, writer and TV star, son of former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Tommy Lapid, served as finance minister from March 2013 to December 2014 and has been in the Knesset since February 2013. His task will be to bring together all parties concerned with offering an alternative to Benyamin Netanyahu's twelve years of consecutive rule. As soon as he is elected, Yair Lapid will have twenty-eight days to put together a team that will give him a majority in parliament.

If he fails, the Israeli president will turn to the Knesset and entrust it with the task of choosing a new head of government. The deputies will then have three weeks to agree on a name. If, despite these two procedures, no team can be formed, a new legislative session will be held by the fall of 2021. This is an old saying in Israeli politics, since the country has already experienced four such elections in two years, in the face of political deadlock.

Eric Apim


Thursday, May 6th 2021



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