Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be tasked tomorrow with forming the next coalition government as official results of the March 17 election are published. The presidency said in a statement that the head of the Central Elections Committee would formally deliver the results to President Reuven Rivlin late afternoon.
Then at 7:30 pm (1730 GMT) Rivlin is to give the member of parliament selected to form the next parliament an invitation to do so.
Netanyhu’s rightwing Likud party won 30 of parliament’s 120 seats, compared with 24 for its nearest rival, the centre-left Zionist Union.
In Israel, it is not necessarily the leader of the largest party who forms the next government and becomes premier, but the one who can form a working coalition, preferably with a majority of at least 61. Firm backing for Netanyahu to stay in the post for a third consecutive term emerged during talks on Sunday and Monday between Rivlin and representatives of the 10 parties elected to parliament who told him whom they would recommend as prime minister.
Six parties, comprising 67 lawmakers, threw their support behind Netanyahu, presidential spokesman Jason Pearlman said at the conclusion of the talks. At 8:05 pm (1805 GMT) tomorrow, Rivlin and the premier-designate are to deliver public statements, the presidency said. The nominee will then plunge into intense horse trading as potential coalition partners battle for portfolios and prestige.
Netanyahu has said he is seeking a partnership with Likud’s “natural allies”, the hardline rightwing and ultra-Orthodox. Both he and Isaac Herzog, leader of the second-placed Zionist Union, have ruled out joining forces in a unity government.
Public radio said Netanyahu met today with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, and would hold evening talks with Likud defector Moshe Kahlon, whose newly-minted centrist Kulanu party won 10 seats.
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