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Israel: Netanyahu must be officially appointed to form the government

His government could be the most right-wing in Israel's history, which immediately raised fears locally and internationally.

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Israel: Netanyahu must be officially appointed to form the government

His government could be the most right-wing in Israel's history, which immediately raised fears locally and internationally.

Earlier this week, a majority of lawmakers, 64 out of 120 in the parliament elected on November 1, recommended President Isaac Herzog give Netanyahu the job of building a government.

His centrist rival, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, won 28 supporters.

Mr. Herzog is due to receive Mr. Netanyahu around 12:00 local time (10:00 GMT).

It was Mr. Lapid who ousted Mr. Netanyahu from power in June 2021 by rallying a motley coalition of right, center, left and Arab parties, determined to put an end to the reign of the most durable Prime Minister of the world. history of Israel, in office from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021.

Mr. Netanyahu is also indicted for corruption in a series of cases and his trial is ongoing.

Relegated to the rank of leader of the opposition, the one everyone nicknamed "Bibi" had after his defeat in the legislative elections of March 2021 promised to "overthrow the government at the first opportunity".

- Rightmost -

Mandated by Mr. Herzog, Mr. Netanyahu will have 28 days to assemble his ministerial team, with an additional 14 days if necessary.

Immediately after the announcement of the results of the November 1 legislative elections, the fifth in Israel in three and a half years, Mr. Netanyahu began discussions with his allies on the distribution of ministerial portfolios.

While his right-wing Likud party won 32 Knesset seats, his ultra-Orthodox allies 18 and the “Religious Zionism” alliance 14, a record for the far right, this government could be the most right-wing of Israel's history.

Among the ultra-Orthodox, the leader of the Sephardi Shass party, Arieh Dery, invigorated by his 11 seats, is eyeing Finance or the Interior, according to the press.

Mr. Dery was convicted of tax evasion in 2021 and had previously been jailed for corruption.

The far-right alliance "Religious Zionism" has claimed the Ministry of Defense for its leader Betzalel Smotrich while Itamar Ben Gvir, its number 2, targets the portfolio of Homeland Security.

- "No illusions" -

According to Israeli media, Mr. Herzog, whose function is above all symbolic, tried to convince Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, rivals of Mr. Netanyahu, to form a coalition with him to avoid entry to the government of controversial figures like Mr. Ben Gvir.

The president denied this information.

But during his meeting with Mr. Ben Gvir on Thursday, Mr. Herzog told him that he receives “questions from Israeli citizens and world leaders (…) very sensitive questions on human rights”.

“There is a certain image of you and your party that seems, and I say this in all honesty, to worry in many ways,” Mr. Herzog told MK Ben Gvir, known for his anti-Palestinian diatribes.

After the last elections in Israel, a politically divided country, several Western countries including the United States called for "tolerance" and respect "minority groups".

On the Palestinian side, the results of the Israeli ballot were perceived with fatalism. Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said he had "no illusions that Israeli elections would produce a partner for peace".

Under Mr. Netanyahu's previous governments, Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has surged and normalization agreements with Arab countries considered "treason" by the Palestinians have been signed.

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