Israeli President Meets Party Representatives for Coalition Consultations

Rivlin expected to task Netanyahu with forming Israel's next government ■ Kahol Lavan rules out Netanyahu-led national unity government

Likud representatives meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for coalition consultations, Jerusalem, April 15, 2019.
Mark Neiman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin began Monday morning his meetings with the heads of the parties elected to the Knesset for consultations to determine who he will appoint to form the next government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all but certain to secure recommendations from parties representing over half of the Knesset's 120 seats, but Kahol Lavan said it ruled out joining a national unity government led by him.

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He would then have 28 days to form a government. Should an extension be required, the president may approve an additional 14 days.

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Netanyahu's Likud party, with its 36 Knesset seats, as well as ultra-Orthodox parties Shas (which has eight seats), United Torah Judaism (that has seven seats), the Union of Right-Wing Parties (that got five seats) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu (which received four seats) all said they would recommed Netanyahu.

Shas's Arye Dery and UTJ's Yaakov Litzman met with Netanyahu on Monday to "coordinate" their demands ahead of their meetings with the president. 

Kahol Lavan, with 35 Knesset seats, as well as Labor, with six, and Meretz, with four, are expected to recommend Benny Gantz to form the next governing coalition. 

Gantz, as the chief of the new Knesset's second-largest party, is the only realistic alternative to Netanyahu for forming a coalition, but would only be tasked with doing so should Netanyahu unexpectedly fail.

Senior Kahol Lavan member and former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi, after officially recommending Gantz for prime minister, told Rivlin that "under the current political circumstances, we won't be able to serve" in a Netanyahu-led government.

Kahol Lavan representatives meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for coalition consultations, Jerusalem, April 15, 2019.
Mark Neiman/GPO

Arab-majority parties Hadash-Ta'al, which got six seats, and United Arab List-Balad, which got four, are expected to recommend no party leader, and Avidgor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu is still undecided.

Rivlin has announced that for the first time, the talks at the president's official residence in Jerusalem will be broadcast live for the sake of transparency.

Likud was the first party to send representatives to Rivlin at 9:15 A.M. Israel time, following by Kahol Lavan at 10 A.M., Shas at 10:45 A.M., UTJ at 11:30 A.M. and Hadash-Ta'al at 12:15 P.M.

Representatives of Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, Union of Right-Wing Parties, Meretz, Kulanu and UAL-Balad are slated to meet with Rivlin on Tuesday.

At the end of this round of talks, Rivlin would announce the lawmaker who got the most recoommendations.

The official election results will be handed to Rivlin by Central Elections Committee chairman, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, on Wednesday.

Aaron Rabinowitz contributed to this report.