Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the President's residence in Jerusalem, on April 17, 2019. Israel's president appointed on Wednesday night incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the country's 35th government, following the April 9 elections. (Xinhua/JINI)
JERUSALEM, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Israel's president appointed on Wednesday night incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the country's 35th government, following the April 9 elections.
In live broadcast statements, President Reuven Rivlin announced he had decided to task Netanyahu with forming Israel's next government following two-day consultations held with the parliament parties elected in the recent elections.
The consultations are an official procedure in Israel after elections, in which the 120 newly-elected members of the parliament, or the Knesset, give their recommendations on which leader should form the government.
The president then selects the candidate with the best chances of forming a government. At no time in Israel's history, any party won an outright majority to form a government. A coalition needs at least 61 members of the 120-member Knesset.
"My Excellency, incumbent prime minister and designated prime minister," Rivlin addressed Netanyahu, "65 members of the Knesset recommended you."
Netanyahu vowed to serve as the prime minister "of all Israelis," after being criticized over a divisive and inciting election campaign that included placing hidden cameras inside polling stations of Arab towns.
The appointment means Netanyahu will now begin the process of coalition-building. He is likely to form a narrow right-wing government composed of pro-settler, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox parties, which already announced their support to him.
He has up to 42 days to form his government.
Coalition-building in Israel usually drags on as smaller parties demand cabinet seats and financial and legislative changes to fulfill the promises they gave to their voters during the election campaign.
Official results released on Tuesday night showed that the Netanyahu's Likud party gained 35 seats, similar to Blue and White, his main challenger led by Benny Gantz, Israel's ex-military chief.
However, Netanyahu was tasked with forming the next government since the right-wing bloc won the majority of the parliament seats.
The hawkish leader is heading a record-breaking fifth term in office, becoming the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Israel.