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AFP
May 6, 2021

Israeli president gives opposition chief Lapid mandate to form govt

AFP
May 6, 2021

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israel’s president on Wednesday gave opposition leader Yair Lapid a mandate to form a government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed effort, following the nation’s fourth inconclusive vote in less than two years.

“I have spoken to Yair Lapid and told him I am giving him the (28-day) mandate,” President Reuven Rivlin said, adding that it was clear that the centrist former television anchor “has the best chance to form a government”.

Lapid has 28 days to persuade a majority of the 120-seat Parliament to support him after the president, Reuven Rivlin, gave him the mandate to begin coalition negotiations. In the March election campaign, Lapid, 57, ran on a promise to preserve checks and balances, and to prevent Netanyahu from remaining in office at the head of a right-wing, religious alliance that seeks to curb the power of the judiciary.

Lapid’s entry to the spotlight is the latest twist in a two-year political stalemate that has seen Israelis trudge to the polls four times since 2019, each time electing a Parliament whose lawmakers are roughly evenly split between supporters and opponents of Netanyahu.

The impasse has left political leaders repeatedly unable to form a stable majority, a stalemate that has left the country without a national budget and with several key administrative positions in the civil service unfilled.

It has also forced leaders to search for ever more unlikely alliances. To secure a coalition, Lapid has previously said he would be willing to share power with an ultranationalist rival, Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader who opposes Palestinian statehood and seeks to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. The divisions and complexities of Israeli politics currently make it impossible for Mr. Lapid to win office without reaching a compromise with parts of the far right.

His party, Yesh Atid, which means “There Is A Future,” came second in the general election in March with 17 seats, behind Netanyahu’s right-wing party, Likud, with 30 seats.Lapid will need to persuade an ideologically incoherent array of other opposition parties to set aside their differences to form an alliance of 61 lawmakers, the minimum for a parliamentary majority.

Lapid could form an alliance with far-right lawmakers who reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, left-wing parties that support a two-state solution, Arab nationalists and Islamists, none of them natural political bedfellows.