Netanyahu officially begins to form Israel’s new government

Israeli President officially tasks Netanyahu with forming new coalition; Netanyahu to form government within six weeks; PM addresses security, Palestinians, welfare and his role as head of Israel’s 20th Knesset

President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu (Roi Yanovsky)

President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu (Roi Yanovsky)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has officially appointed Prime Minister to begin to form the 20th Knesset Wednesday. Netanyahu will begin to form the next government in the following days and has up to six weeks to create a new coalition of 67 seats of 120.

The Prime Minister met with President Rivlin in his resident in Jerusalem and addressed peace with the Palestinians, his role as prime minister and his goals for the State of Israel as he resumes his position as Israel’s prime minister.

He stated that, “As the prime minister of each and every one of you – those who elected me and those who did not. I will act to mend the rifts which have opened up between different segments of society during the election.”

Speaking at length of peace he stated, “The people of Israel know that real peace, that our entire future, will only be secured if Israel remains strong…” adding that “Our hand is extended in peace to our Palestinian neighbors” amidst harsh domestic and international criticism of his announcement that there would be no Palestinian state under his government.

He cited Israel’s main challenges as that of “fortifying our defenses and improving our welfare” addressing the upcoming end of negotiations between world powers and Iran. Talks are set to end at the end of March with a framework agreement. He stated that “This agreement endangers us, our neighbors and the world. We see eye to eye with many of our Arab neighbors regarding the danger Iran poses, and recognize the benefits this new partnership will yield to the region.”

President Rivlin stated that Netanyahu is ”tasked with the grave responsibility of forming a government as stable and as wide as possible, and soon… The incoming government and Knesset are faced with three critical tasks, both coalition and opposition as one. The first is reinforcing the ties between Israel and the US, our biggest and most important ally. The second is to restore stability to the political system and restoring the public’s trust in the system – we must not go back to elections in two years. And the third is healing the painful wounds and rifts opened in recent years, which have grown during this election campaign.”

Addressing Israeli citizens he stated, “To the citizens of Israel, we’ve gone through a difficult election campaign… Things were said on all sides that should not have been said. Not in a Jewish state, and not in a democratic state. The heat of the flames serves no one. The fire is not just hot, it could burn. Today is time to start the healing. This is the time to start mending the rifts. We must also be prepared for difficult days that might come. In order for us to fight for our home, we must continue building it, together, all Israeli citizens as one. The responsibility for that lies on all of our shoulders, and it lies on your shoulder, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Netanyahu responded that he accepts his duty, relating his current position to Passover. He stated “I’m excited as if this was the first time, and I’m well aware of the magnitude of the responsibility placed upon me. In each and every generation a man is obligated to see himself as if he has left behind his personal confinements. My friends and citizens of Israel, I do not forget this commandment for a moment. I remember well that our freedom is not to be taken for granted. We will ensure it only if we are righteous and united.”