JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a midnight deadline on Tuesday to put together a new coalition government — or be looking at the possibility of leading his Likud party into the opposition for the first time in 12 years.
Netanyahu has struggled to secure a parliamentary majority since March 23 — when elections ended in deadlock for the fourth consecutive time in the past two years. Despite repeated meetings with many of his rivals and unprecedented outreach to the leader of a small Islamist Arab party, Netanyahu has not been able to close a deal during a four-week window.
That window was to expire at midnight, at which point the matter returns to President Reuven Rivlin in the absence of an agreement.
A failure to reach a deal would not immediately push Netanyahu out of office.
Rivlin could give him an additional two weeks to form a coalition. He could give one of Netanyahu’s opponents an opportunity to form a government, or in a final move of desperation, send the matter straight to parliament.