Netanyahu wants a referendum to choose a prime minister in Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called for a referendum to elect the next head of government, as he struggles to form a coalition after winning the legislative elections.

His right-wing Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats in the Knesset in the March 23 legislative elections, the fourth in less than two years. Mr. Netanyahu won the support of ultra-Orthodox parties and a far-right alliance, but failed to muster a majority of 61 seats.

On April 6, he was commissioned by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, but he has not yet succeeded in putting it in place.

We need a quick referendum to break the political deadlockNetanyahu told reporters.

Let the voters decide who their next prime minister will be.

A quote from:Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Mr. Netanyahu, 71, called on Sunday Gideon Saar, who left Likud at the end of 2020 to form his own party, to join him in a right-wing government.

But his opponents are working behind the scenes to form a government and thus replace Mr. Netanyahu, the most perennial of Israeli prime ministers, in office for 12 years, and who is currently on trial for corruption in three cases.

On Sunday, the centrist Yair Lapid, of the Yesh Atid party (17 seats), proposed a unity government comprising parties from the right, the center and the left, excluding that of Mr. Netanyahu. But this coalition would gather only 58 seats.

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A referendum could allow Benyamin Netanyahu to remain in power, but, according to experts, such a poll could also create a new impasse.

There have been three elections for prime ministers by direct universal suffrage in Israel. The last one, held in 2001, made difficult the task of government to conduct a coherent policy, write Assaf Shapira and Amir Fuchs, from the think tank Israel Democracy Institute.

Likud candidate Ariel Sharon had at the time largely beaten outgoing Prime Minister, Labor Ehud Barak.

The disproportionate power of small parties caused the government to operate with constant fear of early elections, add the two experts.

For Tal Schneider, journalist at Times of Israel, Mr. Netanyahu would need the vote of 61 deputies to change the electoral law, and if he had them he (could form) a government.

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