Israel”s president on Thursday tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government after Parliament passed legislations approving details of a power-sharing deal between the premier”s Likud and centrist rival Benny Gantz”s Blue and White parties.
“I hope Israel will soon have a government that will deal successfully with the complex challenges that stand before us,” President Reuven Rivlin said, noting the dual crises of the political stalemate and the impact of the coronavirus.
Rivlin granted Netanyahu a two-week mandate on Thursday night to form the government, which would keep him in power until November 13, 2021.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel”s Parliament approved amendments to two basic laws by a hefty majority, paving the way for Netanyahu to form a fully functioning unity government for the first time since December 2018.
The Knesset or Parliament voted by 71 votes to 37 to back the power-sharing deal between Netanyahu”s Likud and his main rival former military chief Gantz”s Blue and White parties.
The bills were supported by the lawmakers in Netanyahu”s Center-Right bloc, except for the lawmakers of Yamina, who absented themselves, because it is still unknown whether it will enter the coalition. Blue and White and Labor lawmakers voted in favour, except for Labor lawmaker Merav Michaeli, who opposes the government, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The bills were necessary for Blue and White to be able to recommend Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a government by Thursday night”s deadline to prevent a fourth election, the paper said.
Later, representatives of Likud and Blue and White submitted 72 signatures of lawmakers recommending that Netanyahu form the next government to President Reuven Rivlin, it added.
Once approved by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have two weeks to form the next government.
The development came a day after Israeli High Court ruled on Wednesday that Netanyahu may form a new government while under indictment for corruption charges.
In their ruling, the 11 justices said there was no legal cause to intervene in the coalition agreement between the two parties.
The petitions against Netanyahu were filed by advocacy groups that have asked the court to ban any indicted politician, including Netanyahu, from being allowed to form a new government.
Netanyahu, 70, was indicted earlier this year on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.
He has denied any wrongdoing. His trial was postponed due to restrictions his hand-picked interim justice minister placed on the courts after the coronavirus crisis erupted and is scheduled to commence later this month.
Netanyahu had signed the agreement with Gantz to form a national government last month after an unprecedented third round of polls which again did not give anybody a clear verdict to form the government.
The deal allows Netanyahu to serve the first 18 months as Prime Minister after which Gantz would assume power for the next 18 months.
Netanyahu, Israel”s longest serving prime minister, has held onto power as a caretaker leader for more than a year as political stalemate prevented the creation of a government and triggered successive elections.
His ruling Likud party emerged as the single largest party with 36 seats in the 120-member Knesset after the third round of polls but the right-wing bloc led by him could garner only 58 seats, falling short of the simple majority of 61.
Gantz won the backing of 61 Knesset members and was mandated by President Rivlin to form the next government but he chose to cut a deal with Netanyahu, even at the cost of splitting his Blue and White party given the difficulties of putting together a government in a highly divided Israeli polity.