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Israel PM urges right-wing parties to form coalition

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party,addresses supporters at the party campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on March 24 after the end of voting in the fourth national election in two years. AFP

Israel PM urges right-wing parties to form coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on right-wing parties on March 31 to join him in a governing coalition, in his first speech since elections last week.

The vote, Israel’s fourth in two years, delivered the veteran premier’s Likud 30 seats in the 120-seat parliament, making it the biggest party – but a majority of 61 is required to form a government.

Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, faces a bloc of 57 lawmakers led by centrist part Yesh Atid, who are seeking to end his record-breaking 12 years in power.

Both camps are short of an overall majority, and Netanyahu is reaching out to small, undeclared parties which could take his government over the line.

In a brief televised address on March 31, Netanyahu insisted that “the people have given a majority to the right, with 65 seats” and urged undecided right-wing leaders to “come back home” and join a coalition.

“Let’s put our differences aside to form, together, a stable government of the right, as the people want,” he said.

The hard-right Yamina party of Naftali Bennett, with seven seats, could potentially join the six lawmakers of the New Hope party of Gideon Saar to help the premier form a majority.

Both Bennett and Saar are former Netanyahu allies.

Saar has repeatedly ruled out joining a Netanyahu administration, tweeting again on March 31 that he would “neither join nor support a government led by Netanyahu”.

Bennett has yet to say whether he would join a government led by his former boss.

Yamina said in a statement on March 31 that Bennett would “make every effort to form a stable government to save Israel from chaos”.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on March 29 said he would pick a candidate by April 7 to form the next government.

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