Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been tasked by the Israeli president with forming a new coalition government after talks to form a unity government fell apart.
After Wednesday’s announcement, Netanyahu called for the swift formation of a broad unity government, saying “national reconciliation” was needed in light of threats from Iran and the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s soon-to-be-announced peace “plan of the century”.
President Reuven Rivlin’s office made the announcement after he met for the second time this week with Netanyahu, of the ruling Likud party, and the centrist Blue and White party’s leader Benny Gantz.
Gantz said after the announcement that he had been calling for “a broad, liberal unity government” since before the elections.
“For me, unity is not a constraint created by election results, but a real will that stems from the necessity to unite the people,” Gantz added.
Rivlin warned that without compromise, there would be no government.
Netanyahu, whose party came out of last week’s general elections with a one-seat edge, now has 28 days to complete the task, with a possible two-week extension that could be granted by Rivlin.
If after that no coalition deal is reached, the president will give the responsibility to another member of parliament.
Rivlin had earlier on Wednesday received the official final results of last week’s general election, which produced no decisive winner.
At the beginning of this evening’s meeting with leader of Kachol Lavan Benny Gantz and prime minister and leader of Likud Benjamin Netanyahu pic.twitter.com/Tn5G44CtZW
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) September 25, 2019
The centrist Blue and White party finished with a one-seat lead, taking 33 of the parliament’s 120 seats.
Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party gained one more seat than preliminary results showed, finishing with 32 seats.
However, last week’s result left neither Gantz nor Netanyahu backed by enough lawmakers to form a new government, which would need the support of at least 61 members.