Gantz to Ask President Rivlin for Extension in Forming Government

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Kahol Lavanl leader  and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz
Kahol Lavanl leader and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Kahol Lavan chairman and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz informed President Reuven Rivlin on the progress of unity government negotiations in a phone call Sunday, saying that he plans to request a two-week extension on his mandate after the Passover holiday.

Gantz was tasked with forming a government after Israel's March 2 election, the country's third election in a year. Once given the mandate, a candidate has 28 days to form a government. If no government is formed in that period, the candidate can ask for a 14-day extension or return the mandate to the president.

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President Rivlin has made it clear that he will weigh the situation according to the circumstances that will be presented to him by the expected end of the time originally given to present a mandate, midnight April 13, and make his decision accordingly.   

On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz met in Jerusalem for continuing talks on forming a unity government. In a joint statement, Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Kahol Lavan said, "the conversation took place in a positive and practical atmosphere and agreement and progress was made."

After their meeting at the Prime Minister's Residence, "the two instructed their negotiation teams to try and finalize a coalition agreement as soon as possible."

Gantz wrote earlier Friday on his Facebook page that his party has reached agreement with Likud "on most issues" as part of talks on establishing a unity government. In the post, Gantz wrote that "as of today, we can say that we have reached consensus on most issues that will first and foremost ensure the enforcement and preservation of the law."

On Wednsday, a draft of the coalition agreement being finalized between Netanyahu and Gantz said that Netanyahu was to remain in his official residence even after he hands over the position in 18 months and becomes deputy prime minister.

The draft permits funding for housing for both the prime minister and the so-called deputy, the role Gantz is to have for the first half of the proposed unity government, with Netanyahu filling it for the second.