The Likud party demanded that President Reuven Rivlin give the mandate to form the next government to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after he refused Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz's request to extend his mandate to form the government.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin made the request in an official letter to President Rivlin.
The two sent the letter after Rivlin announced that unless an agreement on the formation of a government is reached by tomorrow, Monday, at midnight, the mandate for assembly of a government will return to the Knesset and will not be passed to Netanyahu.
"The Likud movement reiterates its request for President Rivlin to pass on the mandate to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who leads the Knesset's largest party and has 59 recommendations, just as President Rivlin did after the previous election in September, when he passed the mandate [originally] given to Prime Minister Netanyahu to MK Gantz," they wrote.
The President's Residence said that the President made his decision after also speaking to Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, who did not confirm that the two were close to signing an agreement that would lead to a unity government.
"If the two don’t sign an agreement until midnight tomorrow, and the map of recommenders does not change, the mandate will return to the Knesset and a 21-day period will begin in which members of the Knesset can formulate a majority to recommend an agreed-upon candidate. The agreed-upon candidate will be given 14 days to form a government," the statement said.
The President's Residence qualified the message, stating, "If until the end of the first period given to Gantz to form a government, circumstances change and the parties come to the President for an extension of the period to help them reach an agreement, the President will reconsider."
If, in the 21 days when 61 signatures can be collected for the purpose of assembling a government, no Knesset member fulfills the task, Israel will embark on its fourth election campaign within a year and a half.