Spokesman: Netanyahu to Ask for More Time to Form Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
The Knesset plenum.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will ask President Reuven Rivlin for more time to form a new government, a spokesman for the prime minister said on Motzoei Shabbos.

Netanyahu won a record fifth term in the recent parliamentary election. No party in Israel has ever won an outright majority in the 120-seat Knesset, making coalition governments the norm with political negotiations often dragging on.

In accordance with Israeli law, Netanyahu received an initial 28-day period to form a government, with a possible 14-day extension. The initial period ends on Wednesday. His final deadline, if granted the delay, would be May 29.

A spokesman for Netanyahu cited a heavy schedule that included Pesach, national memorial days and a surge of deadly fighting after an assault by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip last week as some of the reasons for seeking the delay.

Among the most pressing issues awaiting the new government will be President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. The team drafting it, led by Trump’s Middle East adviser Jared Kushner, has said it will be unveiled in June and will require compromise by all parties.

Netanyahu’s desired coalition would also be less likely to pressure him to step down if he is eventually indicted for corruption. The prime minister is under no legal obligation to resign if charges are brought against him.