President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin will entrust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government despite his opposition to Netanyahu excluding Center-Left parties, Rivlin made clear to MKs at his official residence on Sunday.
Four factions, totaling 51 MKs, recommended to Rivlin on Sunday that Netanyahu form the government. Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon and Yisrael Beytenu representatives will up that number to 67 when they meet with Rivlin on Monday.
“It is no secret I wholeheartedly supported a wide, stable national unity government,” Rivlin told Zionist Union MKs.
Rivlin tried in vain to persuade Likud MKs that Netanyahu does not have to abide by his campaign promise to exclude Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni from his cabinet.
“The things people say before and during an election are not always the same as what they say afterwards,” Rivlin said.
“We have differences of opinion with our friends. Sometimes you learn to give way on things you thought you would never agree on due to different circumstances and different pressures.”
Netanyahu’s office denied reports confirmed by the Zionist Union that he sent his former chief of staff Natan Eshel to Herzog to check whether his opposition to joining a Netanyahu- led government was firm.
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“Netanyahu did not authorize anyone to make contact with Labor,” the Likud said in a statement. “If the prime minister wanted to talk to Herzog he would do it himself without a mediator. But he won’t, due to the deep ideological differences between Labor and Likud.”
The Likud did confirm that Netanyahu sent MKs Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin to meet with Shas and United Torah Judaism leaders. A source close to Netanyahu said he would like the two haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties to enter his government first.
Levin said the Likud would make an effort to keep socioeconomic portfolios for the ruling party.
Rivlin urged the Likud to form a government quickly, because a state budget needed to be approved.
“We need to swear in the new government as soon as possible,” Rivlin said. “With the beginning of these consultations, I call on all the elected representatives to do all in their power to speed up the process and the coalition negotiations, in order to allow the electoral system to once again operate as necessary.”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said he had asked Rivlin to work toward national unity within the population because there are sectors that find it difficult to accept the election results.
The Zionist Union was the only party that recommended Herzog, and the Joint (Arab) List declined to recommend anyone.
All factions confirmed that coalition negotiations have not yet begun, and will begin only after Rivlin confers the task of forming a government on the Knesset member most capable of fulfilling the mission on Wednesday night or Thursday.
After Rivlin asked United Torah Judaism about the possibility of coexisting in a coalition with Yesh Atid, UTJ leader Ya’acov Litzman told reporters that under no circumstances would his party sit in a coalition with Yair Lapid.
“He humiliated us and he injured us,” Litzman said.
“There is no reason for us to be friends. You wouldn’t agree to have such friends.”
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