President Reuven Rivlin announced Wednesday evening, May 5, he has decided to task Yesh Atid leader, MK Yair Lapid, with forming Israel’s next government. Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline for forming a government expired at midnight, with the country’s longest-serving prime minister having failed again to break more than two years of political deadlock.
“It is clear that Knesset member Yair Lapid has a chance to form a government that will earn the confidence of the Knesset, even if the difficulties are many,” Rivlin said during his announcement, which was made following consultations with Israel’s political parties. During those talks, Lapid received 56 recommendations to be the next candidate to receive the mandate, including from Gideon Saar’s New Hope party and five out of six lawmakers from the Joint List. Yamina leader Naftali Bennett received seven nominations, with the 52-MK right-wing bloc headed by Netanyahu asking for the mandate to be returned to Knesset.
The same day, the Joint List released a statement explaining its decision – albeit a non-unanimous one – to recommend that Lapid be tasked with forming the next government: Given only three feasible options – backing Lapid, backing Yamina’s far-right chief Naftali Bennett, or recommending the mandate be returned to the Knesset – the alliance’s supporters of the decision “[prefer] to task MK Yair Lapid with the mandate” to attempt to form a coalition. The five Joint List MKs who supported this decision are the three from Hadash (Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma Sliman and Ofer Cassif) and the two from Ta’al (Ahmad Tibi and Ossama Saadi), while the single MK from Balad (Sami Abu Shahadeh) did not support this recommendation, nor did he make another one to the president.
The Islamist Ra’am party also refrained from recommending that any specific Knesset member be tasked with forming a government, but told President Rivlin that it will cooperate with “whichever lawmaker is charged with assembling a coalition,” including Netanyahu and Bennett.