JERUSALEM, Israel - The political drama in Israel continued this week as Israel’s President said the country was in a time of crisis.
Israel swore in its newly elected Knesset or parliament on Thursday even though the Israeli political system is deadlocked over the inability of any side to form a government.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin continued to urge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud faction to form a unity government with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
“We are facing a time of crisis for the House of Jacob, an emergency for Israel’s security and Israeli society, an emergency for Israeli democracy,” Rivlin said at the Knesset ceremony.
“Forming a government is not only the wish of the people. More than ever, in times like these, it is an economic and security need the likes of which we have not known for many years,” Rivlin said.
But at separate party faction meetings both Gantz and Netanyahu stood their ground.
"I call upon Netanyahu: do not entrench yourself in your position. We will take the reins from here and lead the country for the good of the citizens,” Gantz said. His party would like to have a unity government with Netanyahu’s Likud party – without Netanayhu.
Despite ongoing legal troubles, Netanyahu is not willing to step down. His lawyers met with the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit this week to present their evidence in three corruption cases. They said they believe that the charges against Netanyahu will be dropped.
“We are amidst a great effort. I'm doing this over the last few days of trying to establish a broad unity government. This is what the voters decided and this what is right at this time" Netanyahu told his Likud faction.
Netanyahu has about three weeks left to form a government or he can return the mandate to Rivlin before then if he cannot do so.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein received so many questions about how the Knesset could be sworn in without a government that he tweeted a video explanation.
“It is an independent branch (of government) not dependent on whether there is a (coalition) or not. According to the law in Israel, two weeks after an election, the new MK’s (Knesset members) who you elected are sworn in,” Edelstein said in the video to Israelis.
In modern Israel’s 71 year history, this is the 22nd time a Knesset has been sworn in.