Israel president wants new govt `as soon as possible`

Israel`s president will seek the formation of a new government "as soon as possible", his office said Wednesday, with incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu expected to be named prime minister.

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 25, 2015, 16:21 PM IST

Jerusalem: Israel`s president will seek the formation of a new government "as soon as possible", his office said Wednesday, with incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu expected to be named prime minister.

Netanyahu, who will serve his third consecutive term, has drawn the ire of Israel`s closest ally the United States, with President Barack Obama slamming comments the prime minister made during the March 17 general election.

"We`ll know tonight who has been charged with forming a government," a spokesman for President Reuven Rivlin told AFP.

"We need stability, and we need it quickly," he said.

"The president will certainly press upon the candidate the importance of getting it done as soon as possible."

Netanyahu surged to a surprise victory in last week`s general election, beating the rival centre-left Zionist Union by 30 seats to 24 in the 120-member Knesset (parliament).

But Israel`s political system requires the government to have a parliamentary majority, meaning in reality that every prime minister has to form a coalition cabinet.

Six factions, comprising 67 MPs, have already thrown their support behind Netanyahu.

Following two days of consultations, Rivlin is due to formally name the candidate -- but this can only happen after he is presented with the official results of the election on Wednesday evening.

Netanyahu will have four weeks to form a new cabinet, although Rivlin can extend the deadline by another 14 days if necessary.

On Tuesday, Obama insisted his disagreement with Netanyahu was over a substantial policy difference and not a personal vendetta. 

The president suggested that the Israeli premier`s approach to the Palestinian issue would make a two-state solution impossible.

In efforts to rally rightwing support ahead of the vote, Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state would never exist under his leadership. 

He also warned that Arab Israeli voters were turning out at the polls "in droves."