JERUSALEM: Israel's president meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger Benny Gantz on Wednesday (Sep 25) as the clock begins ticking on a one-week deadline for him to name someone to form a government.
President Reuven Rivlin will receive official results from Israel's deadlocked September 17 election on Wednesday afternoon, beginning the one-week timeframe, while his three-way meeting is set for 6 pm (1500 GMT).
He could name someone to try to form a coalition as early as Wednesday, and speculation has run rampant over whether he will do so or wait until after the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which falls on Monday and Tuesday.
In either case, the person selected will face what could turn out to be an impossible mission: forming a governing coalition when neither man has a clear path to a majority.
Gantz's centrist Blue and White and Netanyahu's right-wing Likud have started talks on forming a unity government, but they appear far apart on a range of issues, including who will lead it.
Wednesday night's meeting with Rivlin, Netanyahu and Gantz will be their second since the election, and the president has repeatedly made clear he would like to see both of their parties in a unity government.
He has pledged to do all he can to avoid yet another election — which would be the third in a year's time after April polls also ended inconclusively.
"I therefore believe that the right path for the state of Israel today is to build as broad a governing coalition as possible," Rivlin said at a Wednesday reception for foreign diplomats to mark the Jewish new year.
"It's my opinion. I'm trying to do my best."
A rotation arrangement has been floated, but the question of who would be premier first remains a major stumbling block.
Chief negotiators for Likud and Blue and White met Tuesday, but emerged afterward with only vague statements.
The timing in a rotation agreement is especially important for Netanyahu, who is facing possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead pending a hearing set for early October.
A prime minister does not have to step down if indicted — only if convicted with all appeals exhausted — while other ministers can be forced to do so when charged.
EXTRA SEAT FOR LIKUD
The final results Rivlin will receive Wednesday give Likud one more seat compared to the near-complete resRead More – Source