As the clock strikes midnight, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deadline to form a government passes, with the Likud leader having failed to assemble a ruling coalition during the 28-day period he was given by President Reuven Rivlin.
The “mandate” to form a government returns now to Rivlin, who has three days to decide how to proceed. He can either task another lawmaker — mostly likely Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid or Yamina chief Naftali Bennett — with forming a government, or give the Knesset 21 days to get a majority of lawmakers to rally around a candidate. If those routes fail, a fifth round of elections since April 2019 will automatically be called.
Along with his political woes, Netanyahu is also fighting for his legal survival, with the cross-examination of the first witness in his corruption trial beginning today. Netanyahu, who faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, denies wrongdoing.