Netanyahu pledges to form coalition in 2 to 3 weeks

(AGI) Jerusalem, March 18 - Benjamin Netanyahu, the unexpectedwinner of Tuesday's parliamentary elections in Israel, onWednesday said he would form a centre-right government withintwo to three weeks. That means no government of national unity,as President Reuven Rivlin said he preferred. Netanyahu's Likudparty said in a statement that the (outgoing) prime ministerhad talked with all party leaders who will be part of the newcoalition. He spoke with party leaders Naftali Bennet of theJewish Home party, Moshe Kahlon (former Likud and formerminister under Netanyahu) of the centrist Kulanu, Aryeh Deri ofShas, former

(AGI) Jerusalem, March 18 - Benjamin Netanyahu, the unexpectedwinner of Tuesday's parliamentary elections in Israel, onWednesday said he would form a centre-right government withintwo to three weeks. That means no government of national unity,as President Reuven Rivlin said he preferred. Netanyahu's Likudparty said in a statement that the (outgoing) prime ministerhad talked with all party leaders who will be part of the newcoalition. He spoke with party leaders Naftali Bennet of theJewish Home party, Moshe Kahlon (former Likud and formerminister under Netanyahu) of the centrist Kulanu, Aryeh Deri ofShas, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the YisraelBeiteinu party, and Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman of UnitedTorah Judaism. By law, Rivlin must entrust the task of forminga new government to the candidate who has the best chance ofsucceeding, so not automatically the leader of the party thathas received the most votes. However, in the case of Netanyahuthose two characteristics coincide. Netanyahu has 42 days tocomplete his task. On paper, he can count on 67 MPs out of 120in the new Knesset. The Likud party has won 29 seats (a sharprise from 18 in 2013), five more than the expected winners, thecentre-left Zionist Front of Isaac Herzog. The Arab IsraeliJoint List emerged as the third largest party with 14 seats.The centrist Yar Lapid took 11 seats (down from 19 two yearsago). The party was part of the government coalition but wasnot mentioned by Likud as candidates for the new government.Kulanu, the centrist party founded in November by Moshe Khalon,took 10 seats and could tip the balance. Before the electionresult was known, Khalon announced that he was willing to joinforces with Netanyahu as well as with Herzog and that hischoice would depend on the result. The right-wing nationalistsof Naftali Bennet's Jewish homeland party, allies of Netanyahu,dropped from 12 seats in 2013 to eight in 2015. The tworeligious parties took seven seats each: the rightultra-Orthodox Shas lost four votes and United Torah Judaismstayed at seven. The right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party ofAvigdor Lieberman got only six seats against 13 in the previousKnesset and the left-wing Meretz dropped from six to four.. .