Ex-Finance Minister Lapid Gets Shot at Forming Israel Government

Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid was tasked with trying to build Israel’s next government but he’ll have to overcome deep ideological differences between possible partners to avoid the country being plunged into yet another election.

President Reuven Rivlin handed the mandate to Lapid after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to stitch together a coalition following an inconclusive March 23 vote, Israel’s fourth in two years. Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, received the backing of 56 of parliament’s 120 members, Rivlin said on Wednesday.

Ex-Finance Minister Lapid Gets Shot at Forming Israel Government

He has four weeks in which to form a coalition. Should Lapid fail, the president can ask parliament to nominate one of its members -- even Netanyahu -- to patch together an administration, or the assembly will be dispersed and elections called.

In March, Yesh Atid got the most votes among parties that want to topple Netanyahu, whose efforts to stop his graft trial have been closely linked to Israel’s political tumult.

Remaining in power is Netanyahu’s only hope for derailing his trial, by offering an opportunity to enact legislation shielding an incumbent leader from prosecution. The premier has denied any wrongdoing and maintains he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

Lapid’s path to power is clouded by wildly divergent agendas and personal ambitions.

The anti-Netanyahu camp is a mix of religious, secular, Zionist and anti-Zionist lawmakers, as well as opponents and proponents of Palestinian statehood. It includes Arab parties, which historically have not joined Zionist-led governments but could agree to support a minority coalition in parliamentary votes, as happened in the 1990s to foster peacemaking with the Palestinians.

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