Rivlin opens meetings with party representatives to form new government

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli president Reuven Rivlin acknowledged that the country has been through a “stormy and passionate election period” as he opened consultations with representatives of each of the parties elected to serve in the 20th Knesset.

Through the meetings, which began on Sunday morning, Rivlin will determine which party head will be tasked with forming a new government.

Rivlin met first with representatives of the Likud Party, which finished first with 30 seats.

“In democracy the majority rules, and the majority has expressed its will clearly in these elections. The role of the President after the elections is to serve the public faithfully, and to initiate the process of forming a coalition government in as swift and as transparent a way as possible,” Rivlin said at the start of the meetings.

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He is scheduled to meet on Sunday with representatives of the Joint Arab List, Zionist Union, Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. On Monday, he will meet with representatives of the Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Yisrael Beytenu and Meretz parties.

The president will then task one lawmaker with forming the new government. While it is usually the head of the party with the most votes, the president may chose whoever he thinks is most likely to be able to form a solid government coalition.

“We have been through a stormy and passionate election period – this is the time to begin a process of mending and healing in Israeli society. While the government which will be formed will have been elected by a majority of Israel’s citizens, it must provide an answer to the needs of all the citizens of Israel,” Rivlin said.

The consultations usually do not occur until after the election results are officially certified, which is set to take place on March 25. However, Rivlin has expressed a desire to expedite the formation of a new government.

The lawmaker tasked with forming the new government has 28 days in order to do so, and can be granted by the president an additional 14 days. If a government is not successfully formed the president may ask a new lawmaker to undertake the formation of a government coalition.

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