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Netanyahu Requests More Time to Form Government

Netanyahu Requests More Time to Form Government

Friday, 9 December, 2022 - 08:45
Israel's incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (EPA)

Israel's incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested on Thursday from President Isaac Herzog a full 14-day extension to present the new government.

"Some issues related to roles have yet to be agreed upon" in coalition negotiations, Netanyahu wrote in the letter to Herzog.

“We are in the midst of negotiations and have made much progress, but judging by the pace of things, I will need all the extension days provided by law in order to form a government,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party has already signed coalition deals with three extreme-right parties - Religious Zionism, Jewish Power, and the virulently anti-LGBTQ one-man Noam.

Likud announced early Thursday a deal with a fourth party, Shas, that gave the ultra-Orthodox Jewish party five ministerial positions.

"We have achieved another step towards forming a government," said Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving premier (from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021).

Likud's agreements with Shas and United Torah Judaism, are provisional, not binding coalition deals.

Under the Shas-Likud deal, Shas leader Aryeh Deri will be both interior minister and health minister in Netanyahu's next government, in addition to being named deputy prime minister.

Another complication is that Deri has been convicted of tax offenses, which, according to Israel’s attorney general, bars him from serving in the cabinet.

Israel’s parliament, where Netanyahu and his allies now control a majority, may seek to pass legislation allowing Deri to serve in the cabinet before firming up a coalition deal.

If confirmed, Deri would become Israel's first ultra-Orthodox Jewish deputy premier.

Israeli political analysts expected Netanyahu to announce his government coalition days after Herzog assigned him on November 13. But the talks have proven to be complicated in which Netanyahu had to assign critical portfolios to controversial figures such as Ben-Gvir who will handle the ministry of interior.

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