JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received a majority of 67 Knesset members supporting his right to form the next Israeli government.
On Monday morning, Moshe Kahlon, head of the new socially oriented Kulanu, which garnered 10 Knesset seats in last week’s elections won by Netanyahu’s Likud Party, announced following much speculation that he would give his party’s support to Netanyahu. That gave the incumbent prime minister a majority of the 120 Knesset seats.
“In order to quell the suspense, we will honour the people’s wishes,” Kahlon, a former Likudnik, told President Reuven Rivlin. “The people decided that Netanyahu should form the government, and I recommend Netanyahu.”
Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which partnered with Likud in the 2013 elections, later in the day added his party’s six seats to Netanyahu’s total.
Rivlin on Monday was continuing the process of consulting with representatives of each party elected to serve in the 20th Knesset. On Sunday, Netanyahu had received 51 mandates in support of his premiership and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog 24, with 24 abstentions.
Yesh Atid, the centrist party led by former television journalist Yair Lapid, which garnered 11 Knesset seats, said it would not recommend anyone as prime minister and would sit in the opposition.
Rivlin will announce his decision, which is expected to be Netanyahu, on Wednesday after he receives the official election results from the Central Elections Committee.
The lawmaker chosen to form the government, Israel’s 34th, has 28 days to fulfill the task; the president can grant a 14-day extension. If a government is not formed, the president may ask another lawmaker to form a coalition.