While last week's election in Israel made clear that the Jewish state wanted Benjamin Netanyahu to serve a fifth term as prime minister, it is now official. The Times of Israel's Raoul Wootliff reports that Netanyahu has now secured the majority backing he needed to claim the title of Israel's leader:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured the backing of a majority of Knesset members Tuesday as Yisrael Beytenu, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Kulanu recommended him to form the next government in their official consultations with President Reuven Rivlin.
With 10 of the 11 parties elected to the Knesset having now presented their recommendations to Rivlin, Netanyahu has the backing of 65 MKs, a majority of the 120-seat Knesset. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, in contrast, has just 45.
The president said his choice is now “all but certain” and he is expected to entrust the task of forming a government to Netanyahu, who is likely to be able to build a coalition of up to 65 seats comprising Likud (35 or 36 seats), the ultra-Orthodox Shas (8), United Torah Judaism (7 or 8), Union of Right-Wing Parties (5), Kulanu (4), and, likely, Yisrael Beytenu (5)...
Taking Netanyahu over the 60-seat mark, Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz said his party of five seats “felt that the people have made themselves clear and we represent the people who chose us. Therefore we recommend Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.”
After the Union of Right-Wing Parties made its recommendation, Rivlin confirmed that no other candidate would be able to gain a majority and that “the scope of my consideration has been almost entirely removed.”
Netanyahu’s total was then taken to 65 seats with the center-right Kulanu also saying it would back him. MK Roy Folkman, representing the party, said that “the people have made clear who they want to be prime minister. We plan to work with him to advance our social platform...”
For the first time, the recommendations were broadcast live, a decision the president’s office announced last week “in the name of transparency” and “in a historic and pioneering decision...”