Netanyahu Receives Two-Week Extension to Form Government

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.(Photo: File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received extra time on Monday to form a new government, Israel’s president announced, granting the right-wing leader a two-week extension until May 29, reports Reuters.

In office for a decade, Netanyahu won a record fifth term in an April 9 parliamentary election, largely seen as an effective referendum on his leadership since he faces possible indictment in three corruption cases. He denies the charges.

Netanyahu is negotiating terms with nearly all the right-wing, nationalist and religious parties that form his outgoing government.

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. One issue in the current talks is the Gaza Strip.

Former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is negotiating with Netanyahu, said on Monday after the extension was announced that talks would continue, but strategy over the Gaza Strip remained a sticking point.

Accusing Netanyahu of appeasing Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers by allowing Qatari donations into the enclave, Lieberman said in public remarks:

“On the matter of the Strip, I think that our stance is very clear and to my regret the rifts there are still very wide.”

Lieberman, whose party has five seats in parliament, said he wanted to be reappointed defense chief. In accordance with Israeli law, Netanyahu received an initial 28-day period to form a government, with a 14-day extension possible and traditionally granted. The initial period ends on Wednesday.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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