Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the stones of the Western Wall.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin will entrust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming his fourth government at the President’s Residence on Wednesday night, after Rivlin receives the official results of the March 17 election from the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran.
Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a government – until Wednesday evening, April 22, the night of Independence Day.
If he does not succeed during that period, he can request a 14-day extension, which would end on May 6, the night of Lag Ba’omer.
While formal coalition negotiations will begin on Thursday at the Knesset, there have already been talks between the Likud and all of its expected coalition partners.
Netanyahu met on Tuesday evening with Moshe Kahlon, their first meeting in two years, and told the leader of Kulanu he would keep his promise to appoint him finance minister and also give Kulanu other socioeconomic portfolios.
“Your success is everyone’s success,” Netanyahu reportedly told Kahlon.
Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and told him he would not appoint the leader of a party with six seats in the legislature as defense minister. Liberman said on Army Radio that portfolios should be distributed based on skills, not number of Knesset mandates, stating that he had the skills necessary for the job.
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The prime minister met on Monday with Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett and tried to persuade him to accept the Education portfolio, which his religious- Zionist constituents care about, but Bennett wants to be defense minister or foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Likud MKs Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levin met with Shas’s negotiating team on Tuesday morning.
Shas is seeking the Interior and Religious Services portfolios, both for party leader Arye Deri, and deputy minister posts in the Finance, Education and Religious Services ministries for MKs Yitzhak Cohen, Meshulam Nahari and Ya’acov Margi.
Likud officials also have met with the leaders of United Torah Judaism, who want the Knesset Finance Committee chairmanship for MK Moshe Gafni and want MK Ya’acov Litzman appointed deputy health minister with no minister above him.
Former Likud interior minister Gideon Sa’ar said at a closed event at a Tel Aviv bar on Monday that was reported on by Army Radio that he still thinks a national unity government with the Zionist Union is a possibility.
“Based on the statements made over the last few days, including statements we are not hearing, I cannot rule out the possibility it will happen,” Sa’ar said.
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