Right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has begun the task of forming a new government with a call for a national unity government.
President Shimon Perez asked him to accept the mandate after a bloc of right-wing parties won most seats in an election earlier this month. “I call on Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Labour Party chairman Ehud Barak and I say to them: let’s unite to secure the future of the state of Israel. I ask to meet with you first to discuss with you a broad national unity government for the good of the people and the state,” he told reporters. The participation of Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party appears unlikely. Senior party officials have already signalled they will not be taking part. Kadima, the senior partner in the current ruling coalition, claimed one seat more than Likud in the vote. But the centre-left, as a bloc, did not win enough to form its own coalition. The ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, is expected to play an influential role in the future administration. It is the second biggest party on the right after Netanyahu’s Likud, and will be expecting concessions to its policy goals.