by: Jo Sarah Stanford
Thursday, 18 April 2019 | Benjamin Netanyahu cleared one of the final hurdles to become Israel’s prime minister for a record fifth term, after President Reuven Rivlin formally nominated him for the job on Wednesday. Netanyahu will now have up to 42 days to officially form a coalition that will lead the next government.
Even before the votes were counted after last Tuesday’s national election, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confident that he would keep the job. As the votes were tallied and his party, Likud, performed the best they had ever done under Netanyahu, it looked increasingly like he was right. However, even after the final tally put Netanyahu one seat ahead of his main rival, he still had to wait for proper procedure until the win was made official.
One of Rivlin’s main roles as president of Israel is to select a candidate for prime minister from among the member of the Knesset (Parliament). This person is usually the leader of the party who won the most seats or the person most able to form a coalition with a majority of 61 out of the 120 seats.
The final vote gave the Likud party 36 seats and main rival Blue and White party—led by former IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz—35.
On Monday and Tuesday, Rivlin met with party leaders to hear their recommendations for who should become prime minister. After hearing their recommendations, Rivlin met with Netanyahu on Wednesday and officially nominated him as prime minister.
Netanyahu said that he was “moved” by the president’s decision “as though it’s the first time, and in a certain way, even more than the first time,” reported Ynetnews. He vowed to “do everything to earn the trust that the citizens of Israel have bestowed on me.”
This will be Netanyahu’s fourth consecutive term as prime minister and fifth total term after also serving from 1996–1999. In July he will overtake David Ben-Gurion as the longest serving prime minister. His win also scored him a position on the Time Magazine list of “100 Most Influential People” in 2019.
Netanyahu will now have 28 days to form a majority coalition, with a possible 14-day extension. If he fails to make a coalition within this time frame, Rivlin will allow Gantz the chance of forming a government instead. However, with the support already promised to Netanyahu, this is extremely improbable.
Netanyahu is likely to form a coalition totaling 65 seats. Thirty-six of these seats come from his own party, Likud. The rest are derived from smaller parties. Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah bring eight seats each, Union of Right-Wing Parties brings five, as does Yisrael Beytenu—led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman—and finally, centrist party Kulanu brings four seats.
These parties have already pledged their support to Netanyahu. All that remains is for him to negotiate who will fill the cabinet positions. This is a complicated task, as Netanyahu must balance the demands of the religious ultra-Orthodox against that of the secular Yisrael Beytanu party—all of which hold vastly opposing view on certain issues. The Blue and White party also expects to be given some positions in cabinet to reflect the 35 seats they won.
Netanyahu has been in discussions for the past week, but official negotiations start tomorrow.
Rivlin has called for the rival parties to now start working together. “The time of us and them is over, and now it is just we,” the Jerusalem Post quoted the president. Rivlin called on Netanyahu to form a “large and stable government that will reflect the will of the nation as much as possible.”
Posted on April 18, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 18, 2019)
Photo Credit: Edgar Asher, Ashernet
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