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  • Avigdor Liberman, leader of Israel Beitenu party, (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Likud (right).

    Avigdor Liberman, leader of Israel Beitenu party, (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Likud (right). | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2019 (8 hours 8 minutes ago)

Without Israel Beitenu’s five seats, Netanyahu would have to attempt to win the Knesset approval for a coalition with only 60 members, one short of a majority

With less than a week before the deadline to form a coalition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met urgently on Thursday with right-wing parties in a bid to form a majority coalition, but without Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party the PM will not muster enough seats. 

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As the May 28 deadline approaches to present their coalition, Netanyahu called a meeting of all right-wing parties but former Defense Minister Liberman, leader of Israel Beitenu was not expected to attend.

Afterward, Netanyahu’s Likud party issued a statement saying that right-wing parties had agreed on the necessity to form a right-wing government, even if it doesn’t comprise Liberman.

This would mean that without Israel Beitenu’s five seats, Netanyahu would have to attempt to win the Knesset approval for a coalition with only 60 members, one short of a majority in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Liberman said he would vote against a minority government.

“A government of 60 is not a right-wing government, but an ultra-Orthodox government that, instead of preserving Israel as a Jewish state, will change it into a theocracy,” Liberman said.

The former Defense Minister, leader of the secularist party, has not agreed on the right-wing coalition over the ultra-orthodox refusals to allow men to serve in the military. 

On April 9 in the Israeli Legislative Elections, the right-wing Likud won 35 seats, the ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism won eight seats each, while the Right-wing union got five and Kulanu four. Yet Netanyahu counted on Liberman’s five seats to secure a parliamentary majority. 

 

According to the Israeli legislative process, after results were announced, all parties with representation submitted their chosen prime ministerial candidate to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The head of state assigned the job of forming a coalition to a party leader he believed has the best chance of forming a coalition, which was Netanyahu.

The candidate doesn’t have to be from the party that gained the most number of seats. It depends on the most likely person able to form a coalition. The nominee has up to 42 days to form a government before the president asks another politician to try.

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