67 Israeli Lawmakers Recommend Netanyahu as Prime Minister

Yisrael Beiteinu, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi and ultra-Orthodox parties express their support; Yesh Atid says it won't join a Netanyahu coalition.

Olivier Fitoussi

A total of 67 Knesset members recommended Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu form the next coalition, with Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu the latest to announce their support.

In addition to Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism have also expressed their support for Netanyahu.

"In order to quell the suspense, we will honor the people's wishes," said Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon. "The people decided that Netanyahu should form the government, and I recommend Netanyahu."

"As you know, we created this movement [Kulanu] to be socially oriented," Kahlon told President Reuven Rivlin, who is charged with tasking an MK with the job of forming a new government. "We are talking about putting the people in the spotlight, and therefore I very much identify with your statements about uniting the people."

Zionist Union recommended party leader Isaac Herzog for prime minister, and the Arab alliance Joint List has not issued a recommendation.

Earlier Monday morning, Yesh Atid announced that it does not intend to join a Netanyahu-led coalition.

"We will join the opposition and will serve our voters – and all the voting public – from there," MK Yael German of Yesh Atid told Rivlin.

German added that the centrist party, led by Yair Lapid, would not recommend anyone for the premiership.

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Monday called on Israeli Jews to tone down their dissent, saying he was distrubed by the "baseless hatred that's developing among the Jewish people." Rivlin said he agrees, but would add that the problem is not just hatred among Jews "but among all Israeli citizens."

Rivlin had indicated on Sunday that he would try to broker the entry of Yair Lapid’s party into the next government. In his first day of coalition talks with the parties, Rivlin warned that a government broader than the envisioned right-religious one was needed to stave off the “pressures that Israel will face from its close friends in Europe and the United States in the next term.”

On Sunday, Rivlin met with representatives of six of the 10 parties in the incoming Knesset: Likud, Zionist Union, the Joint List of Arab parties, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas and UTJ.

Zionist Union, with 24 MKs, recommended that its chairman Isaac Herzog be tapped instead, while Joint List’s 13 MKs announced they would not issue any recommendation to Rivlin, but would reconsider in the event the president chose Herzog rather than Netanyahu.

Later Monday, Rivlin will meet with representatives of Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Rivlin is expected on Wednesday to announce his decision to appoint Netanyahu to form the government, after Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, presents the official election results to the president.