Bidding to avoid elections, Israel president asks parliament to find PM

AFP Jerusalem Nov 21, 2019, 06.22 PM(IST)

File photo of Reuven Rivlin. Photograph:( Others )

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Parliament will now have until December 11 to find a candidate who can command the support of the majority of the country's 120 MPs or a new general election will be called for early 2020.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin tasked parliament Thursday with finding a new prime minister, as he sought to avoid new elections after incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz each failed to form a government.

"Starting today and for 21 days the decision of who to task with forming the government is in the hands of the members of the Knesset (parliament)," Rivlin said, a day after Gantz admitted he would be unable to build a governing coalition.

Parliament will now have until December 11 to find a candidate who can command the support of the majority of the country's 120 MPs or a new general election will be called for early 2020.

It would be the third such poll within 12 months.

Rivlin, who has been urging a compromise to break the political deadlock, met with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein Thursday and formally handed over the mandate.

It was the first time in Israeli history the president had been forced to ask parliament to find a government.

"The disruptive politics must end," Rivlin said, addressing MPs from all parties. 

He reminded them they have a responsibility to keep the country running and said: "Your political fate is not more important than the fate of an old lady in a hospital."

Polls in September left Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party and Gantz's centrist Blue and White coalition near neck-and-neck.