Israel’s president tasks Netanyahu with formation of government

Jerusalem, Apr 6 (efe-epa).- Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday said he had tasked the acting prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with trying to form a government.

Netanyahu’s Likud party and its right-wing and religious allies secured the most votes in recent elections but fell short of the majority required to put an end to Israel’s two-year deadlock.

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister will try to form a government against the odds at the same time as he appears on trial for charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in a high-profile legal case.

The Israeli president said in a tweet: “I have come to a decision based on the numbers of recommendations, which indicates that MK Benjamin Netanyahu has a slightly higher chance of forming a government. Accordingly, I have decided to entrust him with the task of doing so.”

He added: “I know the position held by many, that the president should not give the role to a candidate that is facing criminal charges, but according to the law and the decision of the courts, a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges.”

Netanyahu has been indicted on allegations that he and his wife accepted lavish gifts in exchange for business favors, for helping to boost the circulation of a newspaper in exchange for positive coverage and for bribery in a case facilitating a business takeover

Israel has had four elections in the space of two years.

Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious alliance won 52 seats in the most recent poll, and the anti-Netanyahu opposition bloc, 57.

There are 120 seats in the Knesset, which means 61 are needed for a majority.EFE-EPA

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