Reuven Rivlin
Reuven Rivlinצילום: מארק ניימן, לע"מ

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate to form a new government set to expire in a week, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is preparing for the return of the mandate and weighing the options of entrusting the mandate to another candidate, or sending the mandate directly to the Knesset and bringing Israel one step closer to new elections.

According to a report by Kan Wednesday morning, the president is now currently leaning towards granting another candidate the mandate should Netanyahu fail to build a coalition in the remaining time.

While Rivlin had initially favored sending the mandate directly to the Knesset, giving the legislature a deadline to elected a new premier or face dissolution and new elections, after consultations with Knesset faction leaders, the president now is said to be leaning towards nominating either Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett or Opposition Leader and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid.

Should Bennett receive the mandate, he is expected to try to form a government with Yesh Atid, New Hope, Labor, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu, and the United Arab List (Ra’am), for a total of 62 seats.

An official cited in the report said that Bennett has made significant progress in negotiations with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid regarding a possible alternative government, though some disputes remain regarding the distribution of several key ministerial positions.