President Reuven Rivlin has no intention to summon Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz this coming Friday for a discussion on the possibility of forming a unity government in light of the emerging results of Israel's election, Likud and Kahol Lavan sources estimate.
On Tuesday night, when he addressed supporters, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman – who again emerged as kingmaker – called on the president not to wait for the final result count and hold the necessary talks to set the formation of a unity government in motion.
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A meeting between Rivlin and the leaders of the two largest parties is likely in light of the current tie, but first Rivlin needs to hold consultations with all the leaders of the parties that made it into the Knesset. Rivlin believes that taking an initiative to encourage a unity government before he hears from the different party representatives would be a dishonor to Knesset traditions, which is why he is unlikely to take this step.
If the Central Elections Committee finishes counting all the votes by Wednesday afternoon, the president may ask panel chairman Justice Hanan Melcer to allow him to summon party representatives on Sunday. He acted in a similar manner after the April election earlier this year as well as in the 2015 ballot. Such consultations usually last two days, and when they conclude the president has to decide whether to give the mandate to form a government to a Knesset member who has agreed to take up the task.
Rivlin's talks with the representatives of the different parties will be filmed and streamed for the public to watch. If neither Gantz nor Netanyahu are able to set up a government that will enjoy the backing of at least 61 lawmakers by the end of the consultations, than Rivlin is expected to take further steps to attempt to prevent Israel from heading for a third election.
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