Israel is unlike the United States where the nominee who wins the general election automatically becomes the next head of state. In Israel regardless of which party receives more seats after the general election, it is up to the President to decide which man and party are more suitable to form a coalition.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused President Reuven Rivlin of ”looking for an excuse” to tap his main rival Benny Gantz from the Blue and White party to form the next government. 

In a leaked recording aired on Israel Channel 12 TV station, Netanyahu is heard talking to fellow Likud party members behind closed doors. If there is a close enough gap of seats following the election Rivlin will use this as an excuse, he’ll give the task of forming a government to Gantz,” Netanyahu said. “Wake up.”

According to Israeli law, the president sits down with both candidates after the general election to decide which candidate will be more likely to form a coalition.

After the release of the recording Rivlin responded to these accusations “This is another despicable attempt to harm the public’s trust in the president’s decision after the elections,”.

“The president of the country won’t be tempted by flattery and is not afraid of attacks like these, which are repeated irresponsibly and motivated by cynical political considerations,” he said.

Rivlin, who is on his way back to Israel from Canada to be with his wife Nechama whose health has deteriorated after a recent lung transplant.