For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stay on as premier, he had to get the Knesset’s approval for a newly formed government, in the form of a confidence vote.
Netanyahu had the support of 60 Knesset members out of 120, and the opposition had 55 MKs. The wild card was Israel Beiteinu, which refused to join the coalition but considers itself right wing.
If Netanyahu presented a government and Israel Beiteinu abstained, he would have won the confidence vote 60 to 55 and been able to swear in a minority government. If Israel Beiteinu joined the opposition, the confidence vote would have ended in a tie and he would have had to alert President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed to get the Knesset’s approval, or alternatively dissolve the Knesset and call an early election (see the final scenario).
What happens now that Netanyahu missed the deadline to form a government?
Since Netanyahu was unable to form a new coalition by May 29, he had to inform President Rivlin that he was returning the mandate he was given.
The president now has to task another MK to form a government, after consulting party leaders. Rivlin can choose anyone he thinks has a chance of successfully winning the Knesset’s confidence, be they on the right or the left.
If the president’s second choice for prime minister fails to form a coalition after 28 days, MKs can ask the president to tap another MK, who they believe has a good chance of forming a new government. He or she will only have 14 days to complete the task.
If this candidate fails as well, the Knesset will be dissolved and a new election will be held within 90 days.
The Likud already said that it would ask the Knesset to vote on a bill to call an early election if Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman didn’t join the coalition, although it is unclear if the such a bill would have a majority in the Knesset. At press time, new elections were tentatively set for September 17.
For a dissolution bill to be enacted, it needs to pass four readings (plenum votes) and be approved by at least 61 MKs.
The opposition might play along, since it would presumably want to topple the right, but there are signs that it too would not want to see another election in 2019.
If the bill passes, Israelis will head to the polls to elect the 22nd Knesset.
By Gideon Allon/Israel Hayom and combined sources