Israeli President to ask Netanyahu to be Prime Minister

President Reuven Rivlin will today formally ask Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli government.

Six parties have told President Rivlin that they recommend Netanyahu should lead the next government, giving the incumbent Prime Minister a 65 Knesset member majority. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party had the support of just 41 members.

In broadcast remarks on Tuesday, President Rivin said Netanyahu “now has a majority of Knesset members” behind him. Netanyahu is likely to form a government comprised of the Likud’s 35 seats, Shas’ 8 seats, United Torah Judaism’s 8, Union of Right-Wing Parties’ 5 seats, Kulanu’s 4 and Yisrael Beitenu’s 5 seats. The Central Election Committee released the final election results last night. The Likud and Blue and White were tied with 35 seats each.

Netanyahu will now have 28 days to form a government, with the possibility of a two-week extension at the discretion of the President. During a victory rally in Jerusalem last night, Netanyahu said: “I promise to work on behalf of all of you, and on behalf of all the citizens of Israel. I want all parts of Israeli society, Jews and non-Jews alike, to be an inseparable part of the great success story that is called the State of Israel. I want all of you to enjoy the prosperity, the flourishing and the progress. We will continue to look out for everyone; we will continue to deliver prosperity to everyone; and we will safeguard everyone’s security.”

Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg has written to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to argue that if coalition partners agree to support laws benefiting Netanyahu’s legal defence in his corruption cases that would amount to a breach of trust and “severe violation of the public interest”.

Zandberg said: “You must intervene before official negotiations begin between the parties wanting to join the coalition headed by Netanyahu and the Likud party, and to make it absolutely and unequivocally clear that any deal which means granting relief, immunity or any other benefit to directly or indirectly affect Netanyahu’s legal status is prohibited and may lead to a criminal investigation against those involved.”