Coalition Talks Halt; Netanyahu Won’t Ask Rivlin for Extension

Coalition talks between party leaders came to a halt over the weekend as Israel mourned the loss of 45 people who were killed in the Mount Meron disaster

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, stands next to President Revin Rivlin, April 2021.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, stands next to President Revin Rivlin, April 2021.Credit: Maya Alleruzzo,AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The negotiations over forming a governing coalition, both within the right wing and within the “change bloc” of parties against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to a halt over the weekend, following the disaster at Mount Meron.

Netanyahu’s mandate for forming a government will expire in two days, on May 4. One of his associates has said that the prime minister will not ask for an extension in the aftermath of the tragedy, based on the hiatus in the negotiations.

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Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett, a key player in forming a new coalition, will have to soon decide which coalition he wants to join. “The main problem with the change bloc coalition is that Bennett has not decided yet whether he wants to join it,” said a source from within the change bloc who is taking part in the talks. “When he does, we’ll have to bridge some gaps over allocation of portfolios and over setting up mechanisms that will enable this coalition to function.”

“One can assume that these gaps can be closed,” the source added.

Bennett was supposed to make his decision over the weekend, but postponed it in light of the public mourning period. In recent days, he has been looking at the possibility of forming a right-wing government with New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, if Netanyahu agrees to step aside at the beginning of a rotation deal with Bennett.

The Yamina leader clarified last week that he’s interested in completing talks with Yesh Atid and the change bloc by Saturday night, making a decision about his political future by that time. People close to Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said that the party leader is opposed to completing these talks before Tuesday in order to prevent pressure on parties in this bloc before Netanyahu returns his mandate to President Reuven Rivlin. The two sides are expected to renew talks soon to bridge over the remaining gaps.

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