At noon on Sunday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met privately with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, after Netanyahu received the recommendations of 64 Knesset members. He now has 28 days to form a government. If he fails to do so within this time-frame, Pres. Herzog has the discretionary power to give him another 14 days.
Immediately following the meeting, Herzog and Netanyahu headed to an official ceremony at which Herzog accorded Netanyahu the mandate to form Israel's next government.
"From the consultations I held, the following picture emerges," began Pres. Herzog. "64 Knesset members recommended MK Benjamin Netanyahu. 28 Knesset members recommended MK Yair Lapid. And 28 Knesset members chose not to recommend any Knesset member to form a government.
"Therefore, in accordance with the law and the tradition instituted by my predecessors, regarding the greatest amount of support for a certain candidate and in terms of the largest party in the Knesset, it is clear that the task of forming the next government should be assigned to Knesset member Benjamin Netanyahu," he continued.
Herzog also referred to the ongoing corruption trial against Netanyahu, expressing his dissatisfaction with the state of affairs, but noting that the Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter of an indicted Knesset member forming a government in a number of decisions.
He then addressed Netanyahu directly, saying, "The weight of responsibility on your shoulders as you move to head the new Israel government is immense, and perhaps even the weightiest and most complex responsibility in the world. Israeli citizens need a stable and functioning government, a government that will serve all citizens - those who voted for you and those who did not, as well. What is needed is a government that will work to benefit the entirety of Israeli society - all communities, all races, all faiths and religions, all ways of life, and all world-views - a government that is sensitive to the needs of all.
"The State of Israel also needs a government that, even if it does not express the views of all parts of society in its composition, will still know how to lead a unifying process within society and will foster collaboration and discourse in a responsible, cautious manner, being attentive to the needs of all. It is vital that we remember that as a nation, we do not have the luxury of making mistakes on critical issues. All our governments must behave responsibly, cautiously on matters that are of vital importance to our existence in terms of security and heeding the red lines that underscore our commitment to being a Jewish and democratic state.
"Knesset member Benjamin Netanyahu, as a veteran public servant who has occupied many senior positions including the position of premier itself, several times, you are familiar already with the urgent challenges we face today, with threats within and without, alongside valuable opportunities ... You know that elections are not a zero-sum game, and you also know how to approach your task of forming a government with the requisite sense of responsibility.
"Your success will be our success, the success of the entire nation," Herzog concluded.
Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu then spoke, saying, "After a series of elections, the people decided clearly in favor of forming a government headed by myself. We are making progress toward the formation of the 37th government of the State of Israel, and I would like to thank all the 64 Knesset members who recommended me. We will do everything we can to form a stable and successful government with G-d's help, a responsible and dedicated government which will work for the benefit of all the residents of this country, without exception.
"Over the last decade," he continued, "we have led Israel to become a greater power among the family of nations, and this is a process that we will continue to lead. Today, I am no less emotional at being accorded the task of forming a government than I was 26 years ago when I was accorded that privilege for the first time."
Netanyahu added that, "I am resolved to be the prime minister of everyone - of those who voted for me, and those who did not. This resolve guides my beliefs and my actions. I stand here with a deep sense of mission, in the face of the considerable challenges facing us. And I say that despite the issues that divide us, we can unite around the vast majority of issues that affect our lives. We are all brothers.
"Alongside the many people who welcome the results of the elections, there are also those who express great fear and seek to panic the general public," Netanyahu continued. "This is not the first time there has been such a phenomenon. Similar things were said about [former Prime Minister Menachem] Begin. It was not true then and it is not true now."