Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to negotiate with any potential coalition partners for the 12th consecutive day yesterday, reported the Jerusalem Post, ahead of the 24 October deadline to either form a government or return the mandate to President Reuven Rivlin.
According to the paper, Netanyahu’s last negotiating meeting was with Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor Lieberman on 3 October, while he last met with Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) chair Benny Gantz on 27 September.
Citing “sources in Likud”, the report suggested that one of the reasons Netanyahu is stalling on negotiations is due to the schedule for Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to make his final decision on indicting the prime minister.
Netanyahu believes the bribery charge will be dropped, potentially making coalition building easier. While a decision on indictments isn’t imminent, by using up his allotted days to form a government, Netanyahu hopes Mandelblit will decide before it is too late to form any government.
On Tuesday, Lieberman attacked Likud, blaming the party for the impasse.
“We are still waiting for a response from the Likud’s negotiating team to our request to start meeting and drafting guidelines acceptable to the majority of the people of Israel,” Lieberman said.
“Unfortunately, the answer has still not come, but we have time and patience, so we will wait.”
Meanwhile, Likud’s Israel Katz – currently the foreign minister – attacked Lieberman, who he accused of having “carried out political assassination against Netanyahu and Likud out of personal revenge and a desire to destroy the Likud”.
“The same man did not stop knocking on the Likud’s door in an effort to join the party in recent years,” Katz claimed.
According to Haaretz, “the general assessment” is that President Rivlin “will not give the prime minister a two-week extension”, but instead transfer the mandate to Blue and White chair Gantz, “who would then have 28 days to try to form a coalition”.