Netanyahu hours away from deadline for forming coalition govt

Thursday, 30 May, 2019

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached a plea bargain with prosecutors over accusations she used state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals, media reports said Wednesday.

The incumbent prime minister's Likud party and the Blue and White faction headed by MK Benny Gantz each earned 35 seats in the April ballot, however parties totaling a majority of the Knesset, including Liberman's party, told the president that they preferred Netanyahu.

The last Knesset elections were held on April 9.

The Knesset passed the bill on Monday with 65 members of parliament voting in favour.

He placed the blame on Mr Lieberman for creating the crisis, but said he was hopeful his efforts to salvage a compromise in the next 48 hours would succeed. They have accused Lieberman of betraying his voters and dragging the country to an unnecessary and expensive election campaign out of personal spite and jealousy of Netanyahu.

The dispute hinges on Lieberman's demand that legislation he supports aimed at having ultra-Orthodox Jews perform mandatory military service like other Jewish Israelis be approved without changes.

Gantz said that instead of following procedure, Netanyahu opted for "three insane months" of a new campaign and millions of wasted dollars over new elections because he is "legally incapacitated" by looming indictments. "It is based on the principles that the army has established and on the data that the army has established, and there is no reason to reject it", Netanyahu said.

The deal was reached in a six-month-long mediation process and will go into effect after it is ratified by a judge, the radio reported.

Incidentally, by the time the next elections roll in, Bibi will have served more time as Israel's PM than anyone else, including David Ben Gurion.

Failing to do so would be a major setback for Netanyahu, and the stakes are especially high with the premier facing possible indictment for corruption in the months ahead.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli news outlet Mako reported that the Likud Secretariat had authorized the merger between Likud and Kulanu, handing Kahlon's party the 5th, 15th, 29th, and 30th places on the Likud list. "At every appearance, I made before the elections, during the elections, and after the elections, I made it very clear that we won't make any concessions on the issue of the draft, which was already brought up for the first vote as a compromise", Liberman said. Further votes would be needed to move towards elections. Netanyahu could also seek to form a minority government.

The opposition has vowed to filibuster Wednesday's parliamentary hearings to try and run out the clock, in hopes that if midnight comes without a deal of a bill dissolving parliament, Gantz may get his chance after all to try and for a coalition and become prime minister.