Netanyahu secures mandate to form new government

By Pablo Duer

Jerusalem, Nov 13 (EFE).- Israeli president Isaac Herzog on Sunday formally asked Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government following his victory in the November 1 elections amid hopes he will pull the country out of the political impasse it has been locked in for four years.

Netanyahu, a prominent figure in Israeli politics, has 28 days to form a coalition, which will include two ultra-Orthodox parties and the Jewish supremacist and anti-Arab Religious Zionism party (RZP).

“The people decided clearly in favor of a government headed by me,” the longest-serving Israeli prime minister said, according to local media.

“We’ll do everything to ensure a stable, successful government — a responsible government… that will act on behalf of all Israeli citizens, without exception,” he added.

When giving the 73-year-old leader of the conservative Likud party the mandate to form a government, Herzog stressed that Israelis require a stable and functioning government that serves all citizens.

The opposition, which will be led by acting prime minister Yair Lapid, has voiced concerns about possible justice reforms by the next government that would threaten the rule of law.

The reforms, perceived by many as an attempt to undermine judges’ ability to function independently, could help Netanyahu in his ongoing corruption trial.

Netanyahu’s Likud has won 32 seats, while its partners, the RZP and two ultra-Orthodox parties that make up the pro-Netanyahu bloc, won 14 and 18 seats, respectively.

Although party leaders have already begun informal negotiations since the election results were revealed, the formal talks to allocate cabinet positions started Sunday.

Negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, but Israeli media said that the ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Aryeh Deri requested to be the finance minister, while RZP party leader Bezalel Smotrich wanted to be the defense minister.EFE


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