President Rivlin consults party leaders
President Rivlin consults party leadersMark Neiman/GPO

This morning (Monday), President Reuven Rivlin began his round of consultations with representatives of all the factions in the Knesset as part of the procedure for choosing the candidate to receive the mandate for forming a government out of the Knesset’s various parties. President Rivlin has expressed his growing concerns about whether or not any of the candidates have the potential for a functional government at this stage.

Currently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has 52 recommenders (Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism), Lapid 45 (Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu and Meretz) and Yamina's Naftali Bennett seven.

In a dramatic end to the evening, New Hope chairman Gideon Sa'ar did not recommend any candidate for the formation of a government. MK Yifat Shasha Biton (New Hope) told Rivlin: "We call on you to summon Lapid and Bennett and help them reach an agreement." Rivlin replied that he could not intervene. The Joint List and UAL likewise refused to recommend any of the candidates.

Ministers Ofir Akunis, Tzachi Hanegbi and Amir Ohana from the Likud were the first to be received by the President, and presented to him their recommendation for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the government.

In response to the recommendation, Rivlin told Likud representatives that he was taking more than the number of representations into account when making his decision.

Interior Security Minister Ohana said in response to the president: "We need to look at the law. I represent the court systems, truth, and justice."

Rivlin replied to Ohana, "I can not accept this kind of independent declaration."

Rivlin asked Likud representatives if they have an alternative candidate to form the government in case ethical considerations prevent him from imposing the mandate on Netanyahu.

Minister Akunis replied, "The answer is no. We do not offer an alternative. We democratically and freely elected Netanyahu to head the Likud in 2019 and therefore he is our candidate for the position."

The second delegation to meet Rivlin was the Yesh Atid, whose members recommended that the government train be assigned to the party's chairman, Yair Lapid.

MK Orna Barbibai, No. 2 on the Yesh Atid list, told the president, "We received 17 seats and we know that when the Prime Minister is busy standing trial, we need someone with public appeal to help us recover from the hardships of the coronavirus crisis.”

After Barbibai told the president that the party would not sit under a Prime Minister who had been indicted, Rivlin told representatives, "I do not see any way in which a government can be formed. From the conversation with you and the Likud representatives, the people of Israel should be concerned that we will be dragged into a fifth election.”

Representatives of the Shas faction recommended Netanyahu to the president, while representatives of Blue and White recommended Lapid. Rivlin remarked in a conversation with them that as things stand now, no government will be formed.

At the end of the meeting, Minister Hili Tropper, a senior Blue and White official, said, "As we have stated all along, we are committed to change and will work in every way to use change and reconciliation to form our government. Even when there were those who challenged or doubted, we chose to recommend Yair Lapid for the mandate. The only consideration that has always guided us is the good of the citizens of Israel. Over the last two years we have worked solely for their benefit."

Rivlin's office announced that the president would announce his decision on who to impose the mandate to form a government on first tomorrow.