Israel’s Netanyahu officially tapped to form government

Nov 12, 2022, 1:11 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2022, 5:15 am

Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement after Israel's President Isaac Her...

Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement after Israel's President Isaac Herzog assigned him the task of forming a government, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. Israel's president officially tapped Netanyahu to form a government on Sunday, ushering the long-serving leader back to power after a one-year hiatus. With Netanyahu comes what's expected to be Israel's most right-wing coalition ever. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

(AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel’s president officially tapped former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government on Sunday, opening the door for the likely return to power of the long-serving leader after a one-year hiatus. With Netanyahu comes what’s expected to be Israel’s most right-wing coalition ever.

Elections earlier this month indicated a clear win for Netanyahu and his ultra-Orthodox and ultranationalist allies and ended the short-lived, ideologically-diverse government that had ousted him last year after Netanyahu’s 12 consecutive years in power.

Though political horse-trading began as soon as the election results firmed up, Sunday’s development means Netanyahu now has up to six weeks to conclude negotiations and cobble together a government.

Netanyahu struck a conciliatory tone at the Jerusalem event where Israel’s ceremonial President Isaac Herzog bestowed upon him the task of forming a government. Netanyahu played down concerns by Israeli liberals and some of the country’s international allies that Israel was “entering a dark tunnel” with his expected government.

“We will do everything to make this, with God’s help, a stable government, a successful government, a responsible government, a dedicated government that will work for the benefit of all residents of the state of Israel, without exception,” he said.

With his allies keen on gaining power and ending the outgoing coalition’s rule as soon as possible, Netanyahu will likely try to quickly wrap up negotiations. But key portfolios, including finance and defense ministries, could prove a sticking point and Netanyahu’s partners could seek to drag out talks to achieve their aims.

Netanyahu returns to power after five elections in less than four years that were all essentially a referendum on his fitness to serve while on trial for corruption. He was toppled last year by a coalition of eight parties that united over their distaste for Netanyahu but ultimately collapsed over infighting. Netanyahu served as opposition leader during that time.

Netanyahu is expected to emerge from negotiations with a stable majority coalition of 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Netanyahu, 73, faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals involving media moguls and wealthy associates. In exchange for their policy priorities and plum government appointments, Netanyahu’s likely coalition partners have promised to advance a series of legal reforms and to weaken the Supreme Court, measures that could make his legal woes disappear.

Netanyahu’s most prominent partner is Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist lawmaker who wants to expel Arab lawmakers and whose views were once on the fringes of Israeli politics. He is the top candidate of the far-right Religious Zionism party, which earned 14 seats in the polls, making it a key ally for Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir, who has been repeatedly convicted for charges of incitement and supporting a terror group, billed himself as a law and order candidate and is seeking the public security ministry, which is in charge of the police. With the police overseeing key holy sites in Jerusalem, his appointment to such a sensitive post could inflame tensions with the Palestinians.

Religious Zionism’s leader, Bezalel Smotrich, a West Bank Jewish settler who supports annexing parts of the Palestinian territory, is vying for the defense ministry, the main enforcer of Israel’s open-ended occupation of the West Bank.

Both of those expected appointments have sparked concerns among Israel’s allies abroad, including its most strategic partner, the United States, over the government’s hard-right shift, which could have wide-ranging implications on the Palestinians and the region.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies have pressed for increased budgets for their constituents, many of whom do not work and receive government stipends for studying Jewish texts. Experts have warned that Israel’s future economic prospects are in danger if the ultra-Orthodox are not integrated into the workforce.

Aiming for the finance ministry is ultra-Orthodox politician Aryeh Deri, who was indicted last year for tax offenses and served time in jail in the early 2000s for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

13 hours ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

14 hours ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

2 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

3 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

5 days ago

Israel’s Netanyahu officially tapped to form government