Rivlin invites parties to meet


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with representatives of each of the parties elected to serve in the 20th Knesset.

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

Rivlin’s office on Wednesday evening sent a letter to all of the parties inviting the representatives to the consultations.

According to a statement from the president’s office, the letter read: “In accordance with Article 7 of Basic Law: The Government, President Reuven Rivlin will hold a round of consultations with representatives of the lists of candidates elected to the new Knesset, and shortly thereafter will bestow the task of forming the government upon one of the Members of Knesset.  In coordination with Central Elections Committee Chairman Justice Salim Joubran, it is the President’s intention to open the round of consultations already at the beginning of next week, out of an effort to conclude the process of establishing the new government as early as possible – in order to ensure the citizens of Israel have the assurance of a fully functioning government, in the face of the present challenges which lie before the State of Israel.”

It is expected that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who garnered the most seats, 30, in the election, will be asked to form the new government.

Rivlin cannot appoint anyone to form a new government until the election results are certified on March 25.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning following the partial counting of some 200,000 absentee ballots from diplomats, soldiers, prisoners and hospitalized or ill persons, the left-wing Meretz Party picked up an extra seat, bringing its total to five, while the United Arab List lost one seat, for a total of 13. The haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party also lost a seat for a total of six.

A final tally will be released Thursday afternoon.

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