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May 5, 2021 11:02 am

Israel: Rivlin Meets With Lapid, Bennett After Netanyahu Returns Mandate

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avatar by i24 News

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin talks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Feb. 12, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Yiannis Kourtoglou.

i24 News – Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin met with Yesh Atid party chief Yair Lapid and Yamina head Naftali Bennett on Wednesday for consultations over who might be able to form the next coalition government.

The meetings come as Rivlin mulls his next step after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned the mandate to form a coalition on Tuesday shortly before it expired.

Now, Rivlin has three days to task another lawmaker with forming a government or send the mandate to the Knesset, which would open a 21-day period where any candidate capable of cobbling a 61-vote coalition could vie for the premiership.

In Wednesday’s meetings, both Lapid and Bennett voiced their respective separate requests to hand the mandate to them, the president’s office said.

The recommendations from other parties put Lapid in a strong lead, however: besides his own 17-seat Yesh Atid, he got recommendations from Blue and White, Labor, Meretz, Yisrael Beiteinu, and New Hope parties.

This hands him a total of 51 recommendations against Bennett’s seven acquired so far, all from his Yamina party seats.

Commentators view Rivlin as likely to task Lapid with forming the next government as pressure is mounting on Bennett to not join forces with the Yesh Atid chief.

On Wednesday, a Yamina lawmaker refused to back a possible alliance between Bennett and Lapid, with reports of another possible defection in the making.

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