Rivlin kicks off coalition talks in meeting with Likud


JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Reuven Rivlin of Israel launched the process of determining which party leader will be tasked with forming a new government.

Acknowledging that the country has been through a “stormy and passionate election period,” Rivlin started consultations on Sunday with representatives of each party elected to serve in the 20th Knesset.

He met first with representatives of Likud, which led all the parties with 30 seats. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads Likud.

“In democracy the majority rules, and the majority has expressed its will clearly in these elections,” Rivlin said at the start of the meetings, adding that the president must “initiate the process of forming a coalition government in as swift and as transparent a way as possible.”

Rivlin is scheduled to meet 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 Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Yisrael Beiteinu and Meretz.

Typically the head of the party with the most votes is tasked with forming the new coalition, but the president may chose whoever he thinks is most likely to be able to form a solid 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,” Rivlin said. “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.”

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

The lawmaker chosen to form the government has 28 days to fulfill the task; the president can grant a 14-day extension. If a government is not formed, the president may ask another lawmaker to form a coalition.

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