Binyamin Netanyahu, left, shakes hands with President Simon Peres. Hard-liner Netanyahu now has six weeks to put together a coalition government.
In a political blast from the past, former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been chosen to form Israel’s next government, ending a nine-day struggle between the candidates and paving the way for a coalition arrangement with a strong right-wing bent.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s rightwing Likud party, was chosen today to form a new coalition government that would see him emerge as the country’s next prime minister.
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, gave Netanyahu the mandate after three days of negotiations with all 12 parties elected in last week’s polls. Netanyahu’s Likud came a close second in the elections but he was chosen by the president because he won the backing of a majority of elected MPs thanks to the strong performance of rightwing parties in the vote. He has six weeks to put together a majority coalition.
The Likud leader promptly called on his rivals—Tzipi Livni, whose Kadima party won the vote by a single seat, and Ehud Barak, of Labour—to join him in a broad national unity government. Even without their support he could put together a coalition but it would have only a slim majority and could run into international criticism for its rightwing policies.