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May 5, 2021 12:02 pm
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Israel’s President Picks Netanyahu Opponent Lapid to Form Government

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avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid gestures as he delivers a speech following the announcement of exit polls in Israel’s general election at his party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel’s president on Wednesday chose Yair Lapid, a centrist politician and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest rival, to try to form a new government, but his path to success was still uncertain.

Israel’s longest serving leader, Netanyahu, 71, has been fighting to hold onto office through four inconclusive elections since 2019.

President Reuven Rivlin, in a televised address announcing his choice of Lapid, said the former finance minister had the pledged support of 56 of parliament’s 120 members, still short of a majority.

“It … became clear that Yair Lapid has the possibility to form a government that will win parliament’s approval, but there are many difficulties,” Rivlin said.

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The most recent vote on March 23, held while Netanyahu is also on trial for corruption charges he denies, yielded no majority for the prime minister or for a loose alliance of rivals from across the political spectrum aiming to topple him.

A 28-day mandate to put together a coalition ran out at midnight after Netanyahu failed to agree terms with potential right-wing partners, opening the way for Rivlin to assign the task to another member of parliament.

Lapid also has 28 days to try to form a coalition.

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