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Netanyahu Drops Bid To Form Israeli Government Amid Political Deadlock


Israel is in political deadlock. There was an election recently, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not form a coalition government. So now the country's president is expected to ask Netanyahu's biggest rival to team up with him to form a majority. From Tel Aviv, here's reporter Naomi Zeveloff.

NAOMI ZEVELOFF, BYLINE: After Israel's second election in six months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had again failed to form a government. But this time, his chief opponent Benny Gantz will be given the chance to do so.


BENNY GANTZ: For the first time in 11 years, someone other than Mr. Netanyahu is granted the mandate to form the next government. And in this respect, we are nearing the end of the Netanyahu era in Israeli politics.

ZEVELOFF: But Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, says that Gantz of the Blue and White Party still faces an uphill battle. Neither Gantz nor Netanyahu has the backing in Parliament to form a majority government. Both leaders say that they want to form a shared government, but they disagree on the terms. From Gantz's perspective, Netanyahu's legal troubles stand in the way. He faces possible indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. But in a video posted on Facebook, Netanyahu placed the blame for lack of an agreement squarely on Gantz.



ZEVELOFF: "During the last few weeks," Netanyahu said, "I have made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table and every effort to start a broad unity government, every effort to avoid another election. Unfortunately, time after time, he simply refused." In a statement, Gantz's Blue and White Party accused Netanyahu of spin and said, quote, "it is now time for action." But if Gantz also fails, then a majority of Parliament members may ask the president to give a chance to someone else, either to a third person or back to Netanyahu or Gantz. And if that person also fails, then Israel is headed to third elections.


GANTZ: That would have sounded like science fiction just a few months ago. But now it might become part of our reality.

ZEVELOFF: Gantz will have 28 days to form a government. For NPR News, I'm Naomi Zeveloff in Tel Aviv.

(SOUNDBITE OF WUF'S "ORBITER") [POST BROADCAST CORRECTION:In this report, we incorrectly say that Israel’s president is expected to ask Benny Gantz to form a national unity government with rival Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, Gantz has been given the chance to form his own government.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: October 24, 2019 at 12:00 AM EDT
In this report, we incorrectly say that Israel's president is expected to ask Benny Gantz to form a national unity government with rival Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, Gantz has been given the chance to form his own government.
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Naomi Zeveloff