Netanyahu Attacks Rivlin: President Is Just Looking for Excuse to Let Gantz Form Government

If Likud voters' complacency 'continues this way we are losing the election,' Netanyahu can be heard telling staffers in recording aired by Channel 12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu / President Reuven Rivlin.
Marc Israel Sellem, Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud officials that President Reuven Rivlin is "just looking for an excuse" to give rival Benny Gantz the first chance to form the next government, a recording aired on Channel 12 news revealed Tuesday evening. 

Likud will lose the election if the current complacency continues, Netanyahu is heard saying in the recording. He was also heard telling staffers that internal polls showed that many Likud supporters do not plan to vote.

"If it continues this way, and the Likudniks do not go out and vote, we are losing the election," Netanyahu was heard saying.

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"Rivlin is just looking for an excuse," he continues. "There will be a gap of two, three, four, five seats, he will use it as an excuse [and] dump it on Gantz. That's what will happen, so get up! Wake up!"

Rivlin responded sharply with a statement that he made from Canada, where he is currently on an official trip. 

"This is another attempt to cast doubt on the president's judgment regarding the exercise of his legal authority. This time, too, we will clarify once again that the president will make his decision in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law, as all Israeli presidents have done in the past."

Rivlin went on to the blast the statements by Netanyahu as "another contemptible attempt to damage the public's trust in the president's official decision following the elections. The president will not be tempted by flattery and will not be cowed by such attacks, which are irresponsibly repeated and motivated by synical political considerations."

In October, Israeli daily Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu was afraid that Rivlin would task another lawmaker with forming the next government, even if Likud wins the most seats. Following the report, coalition whip David Amsalem he would promote a bill that would limit the president's discretion in the decision on who to appoint to form a government after the elections.