Tel Aviv – A majority of the elected members of the next Israeli parliament have thrown their weight behind incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to continue in his role and form the next government.
They have ensured their support over the past two days.
Sixty-five of the 120 elected members of the next parliament recommended Netanyahu as the prime minister in their consultations with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday and Tuesday.
This will allow Netanyahu to form a coalition of at least the minimum required 61 seats.
Rivlin is expected to announce on Wednesday that he is assigning Netanyahu the job of forming the country’s 21st government.
Netanyahu will then have 28 days to complete the task and may be granted an extension of up to an additional 14 days.
The main challenge Netanyahu is expected to face is Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s insistence on legislation that would obligate ultra-Orthodox Jews to enlist in the army.
Many ultra-Orthodox seminary students avoid serving in the army, which is mandatory, as they are allowed to repeatedly defer their service.
Shas and United Torah Judaism, two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, virulently oppose such legislation.
Yisrael Beiteinu is projected to have five seats, just enough to prevent Netanyahu from forming a coalition without them.
The quarrel about army service has continued for years between secular and religious parties.
If Netanyahu forms the next coalition, he will begin a record fifth term.
In July, he would then overtake David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, as the country’s longest-serving prime minister. (dpa/NAN)