Israel: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday late night notified President Isaac Herzog that he had managed to form a government after 38 days of coalition negotiations, reported The Washington Post.
The announcement set the stage for him to return to power as head of the most right-wing Israeli government ever.
“Thanks to the enormous public support we received in the last elections, I was able to establish a government that will work for the benefit of all Israeli citizens,” tweeted Netanyahu.
Netanyahu made the announcement during a phone call to President Isaac Herzog, moments before a midnight deadline.
The move, which came 20 minutes before his mandate to form a government was set to expire, buys him more time as he works to get controversial laws his coalition partners have demanded passed ahead of the swearing-in of new ministers, which is expected by early January.
Netanyahu said he intends to complete the process “as soon as possible next week” A date for its swearing-in wasn’t immediately announced, reported The Washington Post.
Netanyahu’s plan was to have the new government in place less than a week after he received the mandate, but his coalition partners didn’t trust him to make good on promises he made once the government was sworn in. Instead, they demanded detailed agreements, including the passage of certain laws, as a condition of being part of or supporting his coalition.
Even if he is successful, Netanyahu faces a difficult task ahead. He will preside over a coalition dominated by far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners pushing for dramatic changes that could alienate large swaths of the Israeli public, raise the risk of conflict with the Palestinians and put Israel on a collision course with some of its closest supporters, including the United States and the Jewish American community, reported The Washington Post.
Among the measures is one that would allow Aryeh Deri, Netanyahu’s senior coalition partner and leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, to become a Cabinet minister in the government.
Deri was convicted 18 months ago of tax fraud — his second criminal conviction. He signed a plea bargain in which he was sentenced to one-year probation and resigned from the Knesset.
Another measure Netanyahu’s coalition partners have demanded is an amendment to the police decree that would give the new minister of national security unprecedented direct authority over the police. Radical right-wing politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is known for his Jewish supremacist rhetoric, is set to get the post.
The third measure would allow incoming finance minister and radical right-wing politician Bezalel Smotrich to also serve as a minister in the Defense Ministry and have the authority over the military units in charge of the civilian policy in the occupied West Bank.
The laws are expected to pass in the Knesset by the end of next week.