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Israeli President Picks Netanyahu to Try to Form Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a speech to supporters following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's general election at his Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem, March 26, 2021.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announced Tuesday he selected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to form a new government.

A March 23 election, the country’s fourth in the span of two years, resulted in no party winning a majority or holding enough support to form a governing coalition.

Netanyahu will have 28 days to bring together a coalition, with the option of requesting a two-week extension if necessary.

If no government is formed during that time, Rivlin can task another candidate with trying to form a coalition.

In Rivlin’s earlier consultations with the parties that earned seats in the 120-member Knesset, Netanyahu received the recommendations of 52 lawmakers, while former Finance Minister Yair Lapid had 45 endorsements and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennet had seven.

Netanyahu is on trial for bribery and fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rivlin said Tuesday he knows many believe a candidate facing criminal charges should not be in line to be prime minister, but that the law says, “a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges.” Rivlin said he believed in his making his decision that ongoing criminal proceedings should not be a factor.