Rivlin's office mocks Netanyahu's 'paranoia' after putsch reports

Netanyahu chose to pass the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill and keep the current Knesset intact out of concern that Rivlin would ask a different Likud MK to form the government.

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October 24, 2018 08:29
2 minute read.
Rivlin's office mocks Netanyahu's 'paranoia' after putsch reports

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin during an event marking the Altalena Affair, May 30, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

A report that President Reuven Rivlin has decided to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming the next government is nothing but “baseless paranoia,” the President’s Residence said Wednesday.

Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu was going to immediately initiate an early election last week, when the Knesset returned from its extended summer and holiday recess. But Netanyahu chose instead to pass the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill and keep the current Knesset intact out of concern that even if he won the next election, Rivlin would ask a different Likud MK to form the government.

The report said Netanyahu revealed his fears to his close associates and Likud figures. Following those consultations, coalition chairman David Amsalem, who is close to Netanyahu, drafted a bill intended to limit the discretion of the president, who currently can ask any MK to form a government.

Amsalem confirmed that he intends to submit such a bill in an interview with Army Radio. He said he merely wanted to make law what has been precedent, that the opportunity to build a coalition is granted to the party leader with the best chance to form the government and most recommendations from party leaders.

The report said a Likud figure who is considered very close to Rivlin spoke about the idea with Likud MKs in recent days and asked for their support.

The President’s Residence ridiculed the report in an official statement.

“We had trouble finding real information in the report other than an in-depth description of paranoia that is not based on any actual step or ever thought that is happening in reality,” the statement said. “Dealing with such phenomena should be left to professionals who are not spokespeople.”

Netanyahu's associates said in response that "what was published in Israel Hayom was not born at the President's Residence but by a former senior Likud official who spoke about it with multiple coalition partners."

The statement was seen as a reference to former Likud minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is making a political comeback and was the campaign manager who helped Rivlin get elected.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said she was not surprised that "after the Arabs, the courts, the police, bereaved families and the IDF chief of staff, it is now the president's turn to be targeted."

Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel added that he expects the Likud's next legislation to "declare Netanyahu Caesar, devote media outlets to praising his name and invest all of our national resources in ensuring that he will live forever."

The Knesset voted 40 to 26 Wednesday to reject a bill proposed by Zionist Union MK Revital Swid that would prevent a candidate who is the subject of a criminal investigation from from forming a government. Ushers went up the Knesset rostrum to confiscate Swid's copy of Israel Hayom when she used it as a prop during her speech.

"Elections give the winner legitimacy," Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said when explaining the coalition's opposition to the bill. "This bill would go against the will of the voters."


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