(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Pressures from Europe and the US in addition to security, political, economic and social challenges make the speedy formation of a government imperative, President Reuven Rivlin told delegations from the six Knesset factions that met with him on Sunday.
Rivlin expects to conclude consultations on the most appropriate member of Knesset to be tasked with forming a government after speaking to the remaining four factions on Monday.
He delivered a similar speech to each faction, saying that “in a democracy the majority rules, and the majority has clearly expressed its will in these elections.”
Rivlin explained the president’s role in the aftermath of the elections, saying that in order to serve the public faithfully, the president must initiate the process of forming a government in as rapid and as transparent a manner as possible.
This involves consulting with representatives of each Knesset faction.
For this reason, he said, he had not waited to be presented with the official results of the election but had asked Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Salim Joubran whether he could hold consultations in advance, and had received Joubran’s blessing.
Against a background of security and social challenges coupled with the critical need to approve a budget, there is a vital need to act and to swear in a new government as quickly as possible, said Rivlin, who called on all elected legislators and their leaders to act responsibly to enable a government to be formed.
Rivlin consistently referred to the tense and stormy election campaigns in which mutual hostility between rival parties was rampant, and emphasized the importance of reconciliation and the beginning of a healing process within society.
A lawyer by profession, who has many times commented on Israel’s lack of a constitution, Rivlin said that the law regarding the president’s duty in appointing a member of Knesset to form a new government must be amended. The present wording is not sufficiently clear, he said, which led many journalists who report on politics to make the mistake of thinking that the leader of the largest faction would automatically be asked to form the next government.
This is not case, said Rivlin, who added that he is acting in the spirit of the law, which calls for the president to appoint the MK considered to be the most likely person to be able to form a government, regardless of the size of the faction that person represents.
Rivlin will make his decision known either on Wednesday night or on Thursday morning.
It is obvious that whoever he tasks will require an extension on the 28-day period set down in law, as the end of that period coincides with Independence Day. The law allows for a 14-day extension, and if there is no government in that period of time, the president must select another candidate.
When Bayit Yehudi emerged from the meeting with Rivlin, Construction Minister Uri Ariel was asked about rumors of a split in the party if it failed to get agreement on the conditions it was laying down for joining the coalition. Ariel insisted that the party is more united than ever, and will be in the next government.
MK Ayelet Shaked, who headed the Bayit Yehudi delegation, said that she hopes that Netanyahu will allocate portfolios that will be consistent with her party’s ideology, as for instance the development of the Negev and the Galilee.
She also hopes that Netanyahu will keep his promise to establish a strong and stable government. The expression “strong and stable” uttered by Rivlin in his individual greetings to the factions found a frequent echo from the politicians in their conversations with him and their subsequent addresses to the media. Another oft-repeated expression was “the people have spoken.”
In greeting the Shas delegation headed by MK Yitzhak Cohen, Rivlin, noting the tense and stormy nature of the election campaigns and the vitriol and hostility that emanated from opposing sides, said: “We have to find a way in which we can all work together in harmony on all levels.”
He told each faction that all the challenges confronting Israel in every area “obligate us to form a government without delay.”
Cohen said that Netanyahu is aware of Shas’s condition for joining the coalition. Rivlin sought to clarify whether the stated condition meant that Shas would not join the coalition under other circumstances and whether he should invite the faction to return on Wednesday, before Joubran presents him with the official election results on Wednesday evening.
Cohen clarified that the nomination of Netanyahu remains solid.