Netanyahu Tapped by Israel’s President to Assemble New Government

Reuters
By Reuters
September 25, 2019World News
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Netanyahu Tapped by Israel’s President to Assemble New Government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin waves to supporters at the Likud party headquarters following the announcement of exit polls during Israel's parliamentary election in Tel Aviv, Israel on Sept. 18, 2019. (Ammar Awad/File Photo via Reuters)

JERUSALEM—Israel’s president tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 25 with assembling a new government after power-sharing talks with his strongest rival, Benny Gantz, failed following an inconclusive election.

Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, and Israel’s longest-serving leader, still has no clear path to a fifth term after emerging from the Sept. 17 ballot, the second this year, short of a parliamentary majority.

“I have decided to give you, sir, the opportunity to assemble a government,” President Reuven Rivlin said to Netanyahu at a nomination ceremony.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a nomination ceremony at the President’s residency in Jerusalem on Sept. 25, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

He will have 28 days to form a coalition and can ask Rivlin for a two-week extension if necessary. Netanyahu’s failure to clinch victory in a ballot in April led to last week’s election and left him politically weakened.

In the new countdown, Likud has the pledged support of 55 legislators in the 120-member parliament, against 54 for Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party. The two parties failed to reach a coalition deal in talks launched on Tuesday.

Former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a possible kingmaker, has been keeping his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party on the fence since the Sept. 17 ballot, citing differences with both Likud’s and Blue and White’s political allies.

By Jeffrey Heller

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