By Associated Press—
Israel’s president on Sunday turned down a request from Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz for a two-week extension to form a new coalition government.
The announcement by President Reuven Rivlin means that Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a midnight deadline on Monday night to reach a power-sharing deal. If they fail, the country could be forced into a fourth consecutive election in just over a year.
Gantz asked Rivlin for the extension on Saturday night, claiming he was close to a deal with Netanyahu. But in his response, Rivlin said the extension would not be possible under the “current circumstances.”
Gantz last month was given the task of forming a government by Rivlin after a narrow majority of lawmakers said they backed him to become prime minister. But in an abrupt about face, Gantz later announced he would instead try to form an “emergency” government with Netanyahu’s Likud party to deal with the country’s coronavirus crisis.
Since then, negotiations on a power-sharing agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu appear to have stalled. At the same time, Gantz’s Blue and White alliance has fragmented, leaving him with a shrunken version of his original party and few viable options.
The crisis has given the embattled Netanyahu, who is set to go on trial for corruption charges, a new lease on life.
Netanyahu’s hand-picked justice minister last month shuttered the court system, delaying the prime minister’s trial until at least May. And by persuading his rival to seek a unity deal, Gantz put on hold plans to pass legislation that would have prevented Netanyahu from serving as prime minister in the future. With Blue and White in tatters and the clock ticking, it is unclear whether Gantz can revive his legislative agenda. Continue Reading….