Rivlin Lets Netanyahu Form a Coalition Government

President grants Netanyahu official victory shortly after getting final election results.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 20:08

Binyamin Netanyahu, Reuven Rivlin
Binyamin Netanyahu, Reuven Rivlin
Avi Ohayon/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday evening granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a coalition government, officially recognizing his victory in elections last week.

The ceremony was held in the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. Before the meeting, Rivlin did not speak with Netanyahu since the elections last Tuesday, or even telephone him to congratulate him on his victory by which he outpaced his leftist Labor rivals by a margin of 30 mandates to 24.

"I have decided to give you the role of putting together the government," Rivlin told Netanyahu in the ceremony.

Netanyahu vowed "we will continue to act to prevent the emerging agreement with Iran - an agreement which endangers us, our neighbors and the world."

"Our hand is held out in peace to our Palestinian neighbors and the people of Israel know that real peace - and our future - will only be assured if Israel is strong," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday evening, Rivlin received the official results of the election for the 20th Knesset from Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Salim Joubran.

"I want to thank the Central Elections Committee, which under your leadership, managed the organization of this election," said Rivlin. "From the moment the elections was - prematurely -declared, the committee worked day and night to ensure a fair, efficient, and transparent election; for the sake of all the citizens of Israel, and Israel's democracy."

Despite talk of a transparent election, the Yachad - Ha'am Itanu joint list with Otzma Yehudit submitted a petition charging that Shas activists tampered with their slips, causing them to end up around 5,000 votes short of the recently raised threshold percentage.

Rivlin remarked, "we were fortunate to see a higher voter turnout than the last election. A high voter turnout is the realization of democracy, and a blessing to democracy. How awful would it be if the democratic duty to vote were to be seen as a curse, or something from which to be wary of? One who is afraid of votes in a ballot box, will eventually see stones thrown in the streets."

He called to "act to establish a stable government, in the speediest and most transparent manner. Having completed my consultations with the parties already this week, it is my intention to award this evening, the task of forming the coalition to the candidate who received the recommendations of most of the Members of Knesset more than sixty-one MKs. That candidate will receive the first opportunity, to form a coalition."

Netanyahu has already gathered support from a total of 67 MKs, surpassing the 61 seat majority needed in forming a coalition.

Giving statistics about the elections, Joubran said the turnout was "the highest over many decades, reaching 72.4%. As high as the turnout reaches, the more representative and inclusive of a range of opinions, the 20th Knesset will be."

Six parties have already thrown their support behind Netanyahu - aside from Likud, he has the backing of Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, Jewish Home, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

After being nominated by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have four weeks to finish coalition negotiations, although that deadline can be extended by another 14 days if needed.