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BREAKING: New poll bodes serious bad news for Netanyahu as he fails to form government. Rival Gantz to receive mandate to try his hand. Can he succeed, or is 3rd election coming? Here’s the latest.

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UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, Gantz officially received the mandate to form a government. He has 28 days.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history, is celebrating his 70th birthday this week. He had also hoped to be celebrating yet another term as Prime Minister.

Instead, Bibi was forced on Monday to concede that for the second time this year he has not been able to form a majority of at least 61 seats in the Knesset.

He is also waiting for final word from the Attorney General — likely soon — on whether he will be formally indicted.

And a brand new poll bears serious bad news for Netanyahu.

Tonight, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is expected to give the mandate to form a government to Bibi’s main political rival — former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, now head of the “Blue & White” political party. Gantz will have 28 days to get the job done and emerge as Israel’s next premier.

Can Benny succeed where Bibi has not?

I wish I could tell you the answer but it’s simply unknowable at this moment.

That said, a new poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute bodes ill for Bibi. Consider these excerpts:

  • “65% believe that Netanyahu – if indicted – should resign from his position as chair of the Likud party”
  • “53.5% of Israelis think that he should already resign now”
  • Remarkably, “47% of right-wing voters support Netanyahu’s resignation” — this includes “31% of Likud voters,” Bibi’s own political party
  • What’s more, while “56% of the public support rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz in the position of prime minister” — that is, a national unity government — only “14% support a rotation…if Netanyahu is first in line to serve as PM.”

Please pray that Israel can form a broad, stable, national unity government quickly and does not have to go to a third round of elections.

Please also pray for the Prime Minister and his family, and for General Gantz and his family, and for all of their Knesset colleagues and advisors — for wisdom and for a willingness to work together for the good of the country.

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