Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won the support of the Knesset’s two largest factions on Wednesday, as both his Likud Beytenu and Yesh Atid recommended him for Prime Minister to President Shimon Peres.
Peres began the process of officially choosing Israel’s next Prime Minister on Wednesday evening, after receiving the official results of the elections from Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, the chairman of the Central Elections Committee.
The President meets a delegation from each party that made it into the Knesset, and the delegation tells him who the party recommends for Prime Minister. The President traditionally chooses the candidate with the most support.
Peres met on Wednesday with the delegations from the Likud and Yesh Atid, and will meet the rest of the factions on Thursday.
The delegation of the Likud-Beytenu included Ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Gilad Erdan as well as MKs Zeev Elkin, David Rotem and Robert Ilatov.
"The results of the elections are clear," Sa’ar told Peres. "There is only one candidate who can form a government. That’s Binyamin Netanyahu, and we recommend him. The broadest and most stable government possible must be established.”
The Yesh Atid delegation included party chairman Yair Lapid as well as MK-elects Mickey Levy, Pnina Tamano-Shata and Yifat Kariv.
Lapid also recommended Netanyahu and said, “I want to remind you that in the past, after the election, it was customary to hold negotiations over the question of who to recommend to the President to be the next Prime Minister.”
“It did not happen this time,” said Lapid, “simply because our platform clearly says that the person who should form the government is the head of the largest party. We meant it when we wrote it, it is the right thing to do, and that’s what the three new MKs who came with me and myself recommended to the President . This is, in my view, the new politics, which deals not with what is good for the party, but with what's good for the country.”
He stressed, however, that recommending Netanyahu "does not mean that we will sit in the coalition, nothing is definite yet, but what the State of Israel needs is to form a government with no ministers without portfolio, which will bring about equality in sharing of the burden (an Israeli expression alluding to IDF and national service -ed.) and a return to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority.”
Lapid said, “In recent days I have been told I need to lower expectations, that I should explain to the public that what is promised during the campaign is not necessarily what happens afterwards. I do not want to lower expectations, I want to raise expectations. I want us to say to ourselves that even if it takes time, and even if we lose the occasional battle we will win the war for the character of the State of Israel and for the right of every citizen to live a normal and fair life here.”