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Israeli president officially names Netanyahu for prime minister – News Wire

Israeli president officially appointed Benjamin Netanyahu for the fourth consecutive term for prime minister Wednesday, officially launching a process expected to result in a new government dominated by religious and nationalist parties in the coming weeks.

In one of the few non-ceremonial roles of the president, President Reuven Rivlin dared Netanyahu to gather a ruling coalition within 42 days.

This move was widely expected after Netanyahu's party Likud and its right-wing allies won most seats in last week's parliamentary elections.

In a joint appearance after the two leaders signed and presented an official nomination, Rivlin urged Netanyahu to "cure the wounds and cracks" slandered by the Israeli society over the election campaign.

Netanyahu said he was "encouraged" to accept his fifth nomination for the premier "as it was for the first time, and in a way, even more than for the first time."

He said he would "do everything to gain the trust the Israelis gave us."

In the post-war ritual, Rivlin was hosting this week's consultations with party leaders to hear their recommendations on who should be the next prime minister.

Netanyahu's nationalist and religious allies have all been lobbying for Netanyahu to remain prime minister. The last one who has endorsed, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the idle party Yisrael Beiten, officially confirmed his support for Netanyahu on Monday night.

Netanyahu's right-wing block – made up of Kulanu, Alliance of Right wing parties, Yisrael Beiten, and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Tuda Judaism – now commands 65-55 in the parliament of 120 seats.

In the coming weeks, Netanyahu will have to negotiate coalition affairs with his partners, who will fight for powerful government posts with a large and influential budget.

If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition within 42 days, Benny Gantz, leader of the rival central blue and white party, will get a chance to assemble the government.

But it does not seem to be in the maps. "We will set up a right-wing government as soon as possible, probably within a month," said Yonatan Ulrich, the prime minister's spokeswoman.

For several months, Netanyahu will officially become the premier who has served in Israel for the longest time, surpassing David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the country.

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