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Israel's Rivlin Begins Consultations on Choosing Next Prime Minister

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, left, speaks during consultations with representatives of the Joint List, right, an alliance of four small Arab-backed parties, to hear whom they would recommend for prime minister at his residence in Jerusalem, March 22,

Israel’s president has launched two days of consultations with leaders of the parties elected in last week’s elections, during which they will recommend their choice for the prime minister designated to form the next government.

Leaders of the six parties that won the most votes in Tuesday’s elections met Sunday with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. He will meet with the remaining four parties on Monday.

The official final results of the elections are to be announced Wednesday, after which the prime minister-designate will be announced.

Rivlin said before meeting with Likud party delegates that because of the security, social and financial challenges facing Israel, he hoped the next government would be formed quickly.

He said Israel had a stormy and passionate election campaign and now is the time to start a process of mending and healing.

The Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament. As a result, its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is likely to be designated to form the next coalition government.

The Likud official heading the coalition negotiations, Ze’ev Elkin, also called for a short transition period.

Elkin said Likud endorses Netanyahu and calls upon all parties from the nationalist bloc to do the job as quickly as possible without games, negotiations or extortion in order to reach the most stable government for Israel.

Zionist Union alliance

Rivlin then met with delegates of the Zionist Union alliance led by opposition, Labor party-leader Isaac Herzog. Labor party Chairman Eitan Cable indicated the alliance would not join Likud in a unity government.

He said the Zionist bloc’s recommendation to the president is to assign the forming of the government to Herzog.

Hebrew University Professor Abraham Diskin said Netanyahu, if he is chosen to form the next government, is likely to try to do so with nationalist and religious parties on the right and with the centrist Kulanu party led by Moshe Kahlon.

“And if he [Kahlon] decides to go with Netanyahu after all, the result is going to be basically a right-wing government," Diskin said.

Kahlon, a former Likud member, broke away last year, saying he wanted the next government to concentrate on Israel’s social and economic problems.