Israeli president rejects request for coalition talks extension

Last Modified Monday, 13 April 2020 (12:07 IST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rival had asked for more time after failing to form a government for almost a month. President Reuven Rivlin turned down the request and a Monday deadline now looms.
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday rejected a request from Blue and White faction leader Benny Gantz for more time to form a government.
The opposition leader Benny Gantz had requested a two-week extension after failing for almost a month to reach a coalition deal with other parties.
 
Rivlin had originally given the former chief of the Israeli military until Monday to build a coalition following the March 2 inconclusive general election — the country's third in less than a year.
 
Advanced talks but no deal
 
Gantz and Prime Minister had been advanced talks to form an emergency administration to see the country through the coronavirus crisis.
 
Gantz wrote to Rivlin to say that his party and Netanyahu's Likud were "close to signing an agreement and that with additional time an agreement can be finalized."
 
But a few hours later, the president answered that "in the current circumstance no extension to the period allocated to him for forming a government would be possible." 
 
No government for over a year
 
has been without a government for over a year. Despite three consecutive inconclusive elections, no party was able to form a parliamentary majority.
 
A failure to reach a deal could plunge the country into a fourth vote.
 
Netanyahu — in office since 2009 — was formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in January, all of which he denies. Netanyahu is the first Israeli premier to be indicted while in office.