This afternoon, with an hour to go before the deadline passed for Benjamin Netanyahu to build a ruling coalition, the prime minister became a source of satire.
Netanyahu’s Likud party, who won a majority of seats in the Knesset in April thus securing a mandate to form a government, was dealt a potentially fatal blow today. Former Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party announced it rejected Netanyahu’s “final offer” to join in ruling over a dispute about compulsory conscription for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. Into the afternoon hours, Israel media reported Netanyahu had made counter offers to lawmakers in the left-wing Labor party, dangling cabinet positions in vain to two representatives if they agreed to flip to his party. Days earlier, Netanyahu’s party made a similar bid to his centerist rival, the Blue and White party headed by retired general Benny Gantz.
הודעה דרמטית pic.twitter.com/gKL6MKzeU0
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) May 29, 2019
The speech was posted to social media and translated into English by the Jerusalem Post:
“My friends and fellow MKs: I have a dramatic announcement.
I apologize before you, my friends MK Ahmed Tibi And Ayda that I did not tell you. The prime minister spoke to me seven minutes ago.
He told me he is prepared to withdraw from the occupied territories, and to cancel the Nation State Law, and that he is in favor of not just civil equality for Arabs, but also nationalistic equality. And, he is willing to recognize the Nakba and repair the historic mistreatment [of Arabs].
I do not know what to respond to him.
He tells me only [to support] the Immunity Law and the law to bypass the High Court – and I didn’t even have time to consult with you, and I look at the clock, at when I need to respond to him.”
After elections, Netanyahu was initially given 28 days to form a coalition. When he was unable to secure majority support from the Knesset, he was given an additional two weeks, which expired tonight at midnight local time.
This morning Israel’s president Reuven Rilvin explained if the deadline passes, the Knesset could dissolve and Israel will go back to elections, or the would-be opposition party, Blue and White, will be given an opportunity for form a government.
“I, for my part, will do everything in my power to prevent the State of Israel from going to another election campaign. Thank you for listening,” Rivlin said.
Yet after midnight, Knesset voted to hold new elections on September 17. If Netanyahu manages to regain his seat in the next race, it will be his fifth term in as prime minister.
Updated: 10:30 p.m.