Netanyahu Begins Building His Coalition

Thursday, April 18, 2019 |  Ryan Jones

Benjamin Netanyahu has been officially tapped to establish Israel's next government.

There really was no other alternative, as much as President Reuven Rivlin might have liked to spurn his long-time Likud rival by giving "Blue and White" faction head Benny Gantz the first crack at cobbling together a ruling coalition.

Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White both won 35 seats in the recently-concluded Knesset election. Following the final tally, Rivlin met with representatives of all the factions that won seats, and very quickly made clear that most of them preferred four more years with Netanyahu in the prime minister's chair.

Gantz simply wouldn't be able to put together a coalition of any more than 55 seats, while Netanyahu's already got 65 that are willing to join his government, provided he meet their demands.

And that's what's got some Israelis concerned.

What will Netanyahu need to promise the ultra-Orthodox parties, for instance, to bring their combined 16 seats into his coalition?

An Israeli social media campaign has been calling on Netanyahu to this time think outside the box, and shun the ultra-Orthodox and more radical right-wing parties in favor of a national unity coalition with Blue and White. Rivlin gave further voice to that desire by many "secular" Israelis when he told Netanyahu that the people want him to heal national rifts and bring unity, rather than facilitate further division.

Alas, the representatives of Blue and White made abundantly clear in their meeting with Rivlin that the faction absolutely will not serve in a government headed by Netanyahu, and instead prefers to act as a hostile opposition.

PHOTO: President Rivlin officially tasks Benjamin Netanyahu with forming Israel's next government. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

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