TEL AVIV — Israel’s president on Tuesday handed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the difficult task of trying to form a government from the country’s splintered parliament, giving the embattled leader a chance to prolong his lengthy term in office while on trial for corruption charges.
In his announcement, President Reuven Rivlin acknowledged that no party leader had the necessary support to form a majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset. He also noted that many believe Netanyahu is unfit to serve in light of his legal problems, according to AP.
Nonetheless, Rivlin said that there was nothing in the law preventing Netanyahu from serving as prime minister. After consulting with the 13 parties in the newly elected parliament, Rivlin said that Netanyahu had the best chance of any candidate of forming a new government.
“No candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset,” Rivlin said. But, he added, Netanyahu has a “slightly higher chance” of being able to.
“I have decided to entrust him with the task,” Rivlin said from occupied Jerusalem. Rivlin added that the choice was “not an easy decision on a moral and ethical basis.”