One of the key figures Netanyahu needs to get on is former defense minister Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yamina party.
Bennett seems to have rejected Netanyahu’s offer to rotate the Premiership on Monday, although the proposal included Bennett going first in the rotation.
But even if he changed his mind during the day, it still wouldn’t be enough for Netanyahu to enjoy a majority in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
For that to happen, the Israeli leader must either win two more lawmakers from parties currently vowed to oppose him, or somehow find a way for his allies in the far-right Religious Zionist Party to accept a government-backed accession. The United Arab List, an Islamist party led by Mansour Abbas, something they have ruled out so far.
If there is no breakthrough by midnight (17:00 ET), Netanyahu may ask President Reuven Rivlin for two more weeks to negotiate.
Although it is customary for the president to honor such a request, Rivlin has expressed dissatisfaction with the procedures since the March 23 poll – the country’s fourth election in two years – so the prime minister will know he cannot extend such a thing for granted.
Instead, Rivlin may decide to ask Jair Lapid to try to form a government.
Lapid’s centrist party, Yesh Atid, came in second after Netanyahu’s Likud in the election, and the former TV news anchor has been working hard for the past four weeks trying to assemble his own coalition of allies.
Like Netanyahu, Lapid also offered Bennett a chance to go first to the rotating Premiership, which will lead a government made up of a wide range of far-right parties.