Liberman Backing Means Netanyahu Secures 65 Recommendations to Form Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Former Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman at his election campaign headquarters on Janurary 23, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Netanyahu was re-elected for a third term and will return to office, according to exit polls. Israel had the highest turnout of voters …
Lior Mizrahi /Getty

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday secured recommendations from a majority of the 120 Knesset seats, cementing a right-wing coalition of 65 seats.

Yisrael Beytenu, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Kulanu recommended Netanyahu for prime minister during a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.

Labor head Avi Gabbay and Meretz head Tamar Zandberg recommended that Rivlin present Blue and White chief Benny Gantz with the task of forming the next government.

Avigdor Liberman, head of the secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, conditioned his recommendation on the passage of the draft law to enlist ultra-Orthodox men into the army.

“If we’re forced to choose between giving up on the draft law to remain in the coalition, or sitting in the opposition, we will go to new elections,” Liberman said.

With 5 seats, the threat holds weight and could topple the government. Liberman in November quit the coalition over claims that Netanyahu was being too soft on Hamas in Gaza.

The 65 seats is comprised of Likud’s final tally of 35, the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism at 8 apiece, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Yisrael Beytenu at 5 each and Kulanu at 4.

The final decision on who will form the government will be announced by Rivlin Wednesday evening, after the Central Elections Committee releases the official elections results.

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