The mandate given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government will expire at midnight on Tuesday.
If as expected Netanyahu fails to present a viable coalition, President Reuven Rivlin will have to decide if to tap Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to begin his attempt to form a government made up of parties opposed to the prime minister.
But in the Yamina party, members hope that Naftali Bennett will be given the mandate he will be able to claim he has a larger number of supporters among legislators.
According to law, Rivlin may choose to task the formation of a new government on the Knesset, allowing any one of its members to attempt to enlist the support of 61 MK's, but that option is seen as unlikely to succeed leading to a fifth election cycle in two years.
If Lapid receives the mandate, he will have 28 days to form a coalition. On Monday the Yesh Atid leader said he had committed to allowing Bennett to be prime minister first in a power-sharing agreement.
But with the mandate from the president, Lapid will be able to assume control of the all-important Arrangements Committee in the Knesset and to promote legislation to block Netanyahu from holding the premiership again while he is on trial for corruption.
On Monday, Netanyahu made a last-ditch but unsuccessful effort to persuade extreme-right Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich to reverse his objection to a coalition that will be backed by the Islamist Ra'am party but Smotrich resisted pressure even when it came from rabbis who hold similar ideological views.
Netanyahu also increased his pressure on Bennet on Monday, announcing he would be willing to step aside and allow Bennet to be first to head a right-wing government, a move Bennett said was moot because the prime minister would still fall short of the needed 61 Knesset member support needed for such a government to be formed unless Smotrich agrees to back such a coalition.
Any hopes Netanyahu had, that his former ally, turned adversary Gideon Saar, leader of the New Hope party would be willing to join a right-wing coalition if Bennet would be the first to lead it, ended when Saar said on Monday that he would not agree to join any government that gives Netanyahu the opportunity to head a government after Bennett's one year term will end.
First published: 09:01, 05.04.21