Israeli President calls for unity

President Reuven Rivlin issued a call for unity as he invited Benjamin Netanyahu last night to form Israel’s 35th Government.

Rivlin said: “This was a tough election campaign. Things were said that should not have been said, from all sides. Not in a democratic state and not in the Jewish state. The iron wall should be between us and our enemies, not inside our own home, not between us. Now is the time to stop fighting ‘them’ and to start fighting to regain belief in ‘us’. To fight for our home, a place where secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox, Jews and Arabs, left and right can find their place – as equal partners. All parties in the Knesset are responsible for this, and you above all, Mr Prime Minister, bear this responsibility.”

He added: “Unfortunately, this Knesset will have far fewer women than the previous Knesset. I hope that the new Knesset and Government will include women ministers and committee chairs, and ensure that the voice of women is present and clearly heard.”

Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated Netanyahu last night on his election win. She said: “Congratulations to PM Netanyahu on being asked to form a new Israeli government. The UK’s relationship with Israel is of great importance and I look forward to deepening this further.”

The United Right Party told Netanyahu that they want an override clause to be integrated into the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The purpose of the override clause is to prevent the Supreme Court from disqualifying and striking down bills passed by the Knesset, as the court did with legislation to deport African migrants.

Bezalel Smotrich, United Right’s number two, said: ‘‘I have no interest in sitting in a government in which the High Court of Justice once again disqualifies anything that it wants. From my perspective, a government that isn’t the executive branch has no right to exist, and I intend to leave it within two months if the override clause isn‘t passed into legislation.’‘

Labour leader Avi Gabbay is under intense pressure to reisgn after the party’s worst ever electoral performance. According to Channel 12 News Gabbay has agreed to a party leadership primary within the next six months in which he will not stand. Two of the party’s young stars – MKs Itzhik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir – are expected to compete for the leadership.