The mandate given by President Reuven Rivlin to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government following the elections to the 24th Knesset expired at midnight on Tuesday.
Moments before the expiration of the mandate, the Likud released a statement indicating that the Prime Minister had returned the mandate to the President.
The Likud said, "Due to Bennett's refusal to commit to a right-wing government, which would certainly have led to the formation of a government with the addition of other Knesset members, Prime Minister Netanyahu has now returned the mandate to the President."
In a statement released shortly after the expiration of Netanyahu’s mandate, Beit HaNasi (the Presidential Residence) said, “The period of 28 days allotted according to Basic Law: The Government (2001) to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu MK to form a government expired at midnight.”
“Shortly before midnight, Netanyahu informed Beit HaNasi that he was unable to form a government and so returned the mandate to the President.”
“Tomorrow morning, Beit HaNasi will contact the parties represented in the Knesset regarding the continuation of the process of forming a government.”
Rivlin has two main options: One is to transfer the mandate to another Knesset member who will receive 28 days to form a government, and the other is to return the mandate to the Knesset.
If the mandate returns to the Knesset, a 21-day period will begin, during which each Knesset member will have an opportunity to gather the signature of MKs who will recommend that the mandate to form a government be assigned to him. A Member of Knesset who submits 61 signatures to the President will be given the role of forming the government and will be given 14 days to complete the task.
If none of the Knesset members submits 61 signatures during this period, or the Knesset member who received 61 signatures fails to form a government, Israel will go to elections within 90 days.
Ahead of the decision, the President is expected to speak to all the Knesset factions on Wednesday morning and find out whether they are interested in changing the recommendation given to him in the round of consultations that was held after the election.
Until these consultations with the President takes place, a long night of contacts between the various parties is expected, in order to reach agreements that will allow the transfer of the mandate to one candidate or another.