Netanyahu looks to form right-wing government after victory

Netanyahu looks to form right-wing government after victory

Netanyahu looks to form right-wing government after victory

Rivlin said he would begin consultations with party leaders next week ahead of making his decision.

Such a government would enjoy a comfortable majority in Israel's 120-seat parliament and enable it to take hard decisions on public spending cuts and the future of controversial military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews free of pressure from special interest groups.

The president will meet with the representatives of parties in order of size, his office said, beginning with the party with the largest number of seats and ending with those that gained the fewest.

"I think that the latest move pleased Israel but in reality, the US can not hold the burden of such a decision", Shuaib noted. Rivlin will then pick the candidate he believes has the best chance of assembling a parliamentary majority, and ask that leader to form a government within 42 days.

An initial count of the votes cast put Likud and Blue and White neck and neck with a projected 35 seats each.

Meretz, a left-wing party, lost one seat and will enter the parliament with four seats only.

The final ballots of Israel's election were being tallied on Thursday, with another nationalist faction tantalisingly close to crossing the 3.25% electoral threshold needed to get into Parliament. In fact the opposite has happened, with Likud gaining more votes than at any time since Ariel Sharon led the party in 2003.

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Mr. Netanyahu's campaign against Arab politicians, together with a new alliance with anti-Arab extremists and the passage a year ago of a contentious nation-state law, which enshrined Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people alone, deepened calls for an election boycott in Arab communities.

The remarks came after 97 percent of the votes were counted for Israeli elections, which indicated that the long-serving prime minister was in tie with his main rival, Benny Gantz.

This past week, Benjamin Netanyahu secured his fifth term as prime minister of Israel despite facing a formidable challenger and a string of corruption charges.

Contentious issues on the horizon include a pending initiative from US President Donald Trump to try to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, public spending cuts or a tax hike and the fierce debate over whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should perform mandatory military service.

A spokesman for the president's office said he had no word of any plans for such a meeting, when contacted by AFP. In recent weeks, Trump tweeted that Israel should claim sovereignty over the Golan Heights, land seized from Syria during the war with Arab countries in 1967, and days before the election, the USA government declared the Iran Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, a decision that delighted Netanyahu and his hard-line supporters.

The close and often vitriolic contest was widely seen in Israel as a referendum on Netanyahu's character and record in the face of corruption allegations.

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