Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is formally given the president’s mandate to form Israel’s 37th government, less than two weeks after Netanyahu’s right-religious political bloc won a decisive 64-lawmaker majority at the polls that will enable it to retake power after 19 months in the opposition.
“I decided to bestow upon you, MK Benjamin Netanyahu, the mandate to form a government,” says President Isaac Herzog to Netanyahu, at the president’s Jerusalem residence.
The president says it “hasn’t escaped my notice” that Netanyahu is on trial for corruption.
“I am not oblivious, of course, to the fact that there are ongoing legal proceedings against MK Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court, and I do not trivialize this at all,” says Herzog.
“Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Supreme Court has already expressed itself clearly on the matter of pending indictments against a member of Knesset nominated for the role of forming a government, in a number of rulings, including with an expanded panel of 11 justices, when the task of forming a government was assigned to MK Netanyahu by my predecessor, President Reuven Rivlin.
“In light of all this, having considered the facts in accordance with the law, and after you gave your consent to this, as required by law, I have decided to assign to you, MK Benjamin Netanyahu, the task of forming a government,” Herzog continues.
Sunday is the eighth time that Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has received the legally required mandate from an Israeli president in order to attempt to form a government. He has succeeded five times and failed three, and served as prime minister an additional sixth time when he was elevated to the post by a short-lived direct election law in 1996.
Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a government. The president also has the discretion to give Netanyahu a 14-day extension should he request it.
Coalition negotiations are ongoing.