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Israel's president formally nominates Netanyahu as PM

Updated: 2019-04-18 10:50
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) hands a letter of appointment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he is entrusted with forming the next government, during their meeting at the President's residence in Jerusalem, April 17, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Israel's president on Wednesday formally nominated Benjamin Netanyahu for a fourth consecutive term as prime minister, officially launching a process that is expected to result in a new government dominated by religious and nationalist parties in the coming weeks.

In one of the president's few non-ceremonial roles, President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with assembling a governing coalition within 42 days.

The move was widely expected after Netanyahu's Likud party and its right-wing allies captured a majority of seats in parliamentary elections last week.

In a joint appearance after the two leaders signed and presented the official nomination, Rivlin called on Netanyahu to "heal the wounds and rifts" laid bare in Israeli society by the bruising election campaign.

Netanyahu said he was "moved" to accept his fifth nomination as prime minister "as though it's the first time, and in a certain way, even more than the first time".

He said he would "do everything to earn the trust that the citizens of Israel have bestowed on me".

If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition within 42 days, Benny Gantz, leader of the rival centrist Blue and White party, would be given a shot at assembling a government.

But that doesn't appear to be in the cards. "We will establish a right-wing government as soon as possible, likely within a month," said Yonatan Ulrich, a spokesman for the prime minister.

In a matter of months, Netanyahu will officially become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, surpassing David Ben-Gurion, the country's founding father.

AP

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