President Reuven Rivlin has rejected Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s request for a two-week extension to try to form a coalition government with Likud as the deadline to do so runs out on Monday at midnight, The Times of Israel has reported, citing a statement by the president’s office.
Gantz requested the extension on Saturday, saying he needed more time to try to form the coalition. “The political, health and social crisis have brought me to the decision that even at a heavy political and personal price, I will do all I can to establish a government with the Likud,” Gantz wrote in a letter addressed to Rivlin which was published by Israeli media.
Rivlin’s office said Sunday that the president made the decision not to extend the deadline after speaking to both leaders, with Netanyahu reportedly telling him that Likud and Blue and White were nowhere close to an agreement.
Likud and Blue and White began talks on a unity coalition last month, after legislative elections saw Likud win 36 seats and Blue and White get 33 seats in Israel’s 120 seat Knesset , with neither party’s allies securing enough votes to enable them to form a 61 seat majority. The unprecedented deadlock became the third consecutive time that neither major bloc managed to win a majority, with elections also held in April and September of 2019 similarly ending in a stalemate.