President Shimon Peres officially tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the formation of the new government. The two met at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem on Saturday evening.
Netanyahu, who was reelected on January 22, was recommended by the various party heads, as mandated by the formal political process in Israel.
- Netanyahu: Leading Israel is a privilege
- Obama congratulates Netanyahu on elections win
- Meretz: Netanyahu will fall; elections within a year
Currently, the law affords Netanyahu 28 days to create the government. Should he find he is unable to do so, he may request a two-week extension from the president. Peres reserves the final say on approving such an extension and its length.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Peres voiced hope that "The task would be completed quickly," adding that: "The State of Israel needs political and economic stability in order to make the proper decisions regarding these issues, which are part of our daily existence.
"The public expects the government to be formed quickly so that it can roll up its sleeves and make an earnest effort on the many serious, urgent challenges ahead of us."
Peres and Netanyahu (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu thanked the president and the Knesset members saying: "This is a great privilege and responsibility.
"In the last four years, we experienced a global recession and unparalleled regional instabilities. We established a government among the most stable in Israel's history, but the security and economic issues around us did not fade and even grew. They present us with challenges unlike any we have faced in many years."
The prime minister mentioned the Iranian nuclear threat, labeling it "another lethal weapon that is growing around us and threatening our citizens."
He also voiced hope for the induction of social equality that "does not divide the people and lead to war amongst brothers," and called on the political parties that had stated they would not join the coalition, to reconsider their decisions.
Meretz Chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On commented Saturday on Netanyahu's call for all parties to join the coalition: "The Left will be used as the government's fig leaf.
"The prime minister's call is indicative of the difficulties plaguing the coalition talks."
The coalition negotiations are set to begin on Sunday. The Likud's negotiation team is likely to meet with Yesh Atid's team first, following Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima.
Peres met with the various party heads on Wednesday and Thursday. The representatives of Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, the United Torah Judaism and Kadima recommended Netanyahu for the role of the prime minister of Israel.
Labor, Meretz, Hatnua, United Arab List-Ta'al, Hadash and Balad, on the other hand, did not.
During the course of last week, Peres received the official election results and said that "This Knesset welcomes a large number of new members, and more so new women to its ranks, although not enough." He praised the public "for fulfilling their civic duty, and for their active participation in defining the future of the country." He futher thanked the members of the Central Elections Committee for their work.
Even before his meeting with Netanyahu, Peres stressed that "This is a national lesson in democracy. I am aware that the responsibility put upon me is very great, and it is my intention to faithfully fulfill it according to the letter of the law, in order to ensure the creation of a government that reflects the desire of the people as soon as possible.
"I will strive to do this with the proper urgency and without depriving any party of fully voicing its position. I see this as both a great privilege and express obligation in one," he said.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop