Netanyahu, asked to form government, calls for broad national unity coalition


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the formation of a broad national unity coalition after being tasked with forming the new government.

"Last night, I called upon the Knesset factions to join me in as broad a national unity government as possible that would unite the public at a decisive time in our history," Netanyahu said Sunday at the beginning of the regular Cabinet meeting. "The supreme mission that a national unity government will face is stopping Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons."

Netanyahu outlined three additional tasks that he said the new government must address in its first year: enacting a "responsible" budget, assigning more equitably in sharing the burden of Israeli military service, and moving forward in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. 

His coalition negotiators were scheduled to meet Sunday with the top vote-getting parties from the Jan. 22 election —  Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Shas — and on Monday with the United Torah Judaism, Hatnua and Kadima parties. 

Parties representing 82 members of the new 120-seat government recommended that Netanyahu be tasked with forming the next government, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Saturday night during the ceremony in which he officially asked Netanyahu to proceed with negotiations to form a government coalition.

At Saturday night’s ceremony, Netanyahu addressed the parties that did not recommend him to form the next government.

"I call upon those who said they would not sit in the government to reconsider and to come and find common ground," he said. "I call upon all sections of society and all the parties, including those who didn’t recommend me, to join a responsible national unity government which will be as wide as possible — a government which will ensure the security, the unity and the future of the State of Israel."


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