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Netanyahu invited to form new government in Israel

Netanyahu invited to form new government in Israel
Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)

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Jerusalem – A sceptical president invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to form a new government, after another inconclusive election deepened political stalemate in Israel.

The country’s longest-serving leader, in power without interruption since 2009, now faces the tough challenge of enlisting enough allies for a governing coalition.

Under law, Netanyahu will have 28 days to do so, with the possibility of a two-week extension before President Reuven Rivlin picks another candidate or asks parliament to choose one. Continued deadlock could ultimately result in a new election.

Announcing on television his choice of Netanyahu, Rivlin cast doubt on his prospects for success and on whether any other prospective candidate could complete the task.

“To my great regret, I have the impression that none of the candidates, at this stage, has a real chance of putting together a government, one that would win a confidence vote in parliament,” Rivlin said.

He noted that he was legally bound to make the nomination nonetheless.

Netanyahu struck an upbeat note, however, telling his conservative Likud faction: “The task is not easy but not impossible. The goal is within reach. I reckon we can do it.”

Israel’s election on March 23, its fourth in two years, ended with neither a Netanyahu-led rightist and religious bloc nor a prospective alliance of his opponents capturing a parliamentary majority.

In consultations Rivlin held with political parties on Monday on granting the coalition-building mandate, Netanyahu received more endorsements than his challengers.

In his televised remarks, Rivlin said that under Israeli law, Netanyahu, as the incumbent, was not disqualified from being assigned the task despite his indictment on corruption charges. (Reuters)