Israeli President starts post-election talks


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday began consultations with party leaders two weeks after the country held its fourth parliamentary elections in two years which also ended in a deadlock.

He met representatives of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the first in a series of meetings planned for the day with the 13 groups represented in Parliament, reports dpa news agency.

Each group is to recommend a candidate to form the government and by Wednesday, Rivlin has to decide which party leader has the mandate to try and form a coalition.

The March 23 election showed voters had once again evenly split, giving no candidate a clear path to victory.

As has become the norm, the split lies essentially between a bloc supporting the centre-right Prime Minister and a group of other parties hoping to oust the long-serving leader.

In all, 13 parties will be represented in the new Knesset.

Netanyahu’s Likud party again got the most votes, with 30.

Next came the centrist Atid party of Yair Lapid, which has ruled out a coalition with Likud. It got 17.

The conservative religious Shas party came in third place, with nine mandates.

That presages another round of tough negotiations.

The last election resulted in a broad, unstable coalition of political enemies that would have seen them taking turns in the prime minister’s office.

It collapsed after only a few months amid a fight about the budget.

Few have ruled out a fifth election later this year.

A key factor will be the course charted by Raam, an Arab party, that has reportedly considered supporting a Likud-run coalition without joining it, under the condition that a far-right politician who might be in the coalition be blocked from any ministerial position.