Netanyahu seeks to form coalition under his leadership

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called on his right-wing contenders to join forces to form a right-wing government coalition under his leadership.

In his first remarks since Tuesday’s inconclusive elections, Netanyahu urged Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-right pro-settler Yamina party, and Gideon Sa’ar, leader of the right-wing New Hope party, to help him put together a coalition.

“It is time to put our differences behind us,” he said in a broadcasted TV statement.

According to Netanyahu, together with allied parties and Yamina and New Hope, he could form a coalition of 65 members and gain a firm majority in the 120-member parliament.

“Let’s form a stable right-wing government that would last for years,” Netanyahu said.

Sa’ar rejected Netanyahu’s call. The New Hope’s main campaign promise was to replace Netanyahu. On Wednesday night, Sa’ar repeated his promise and said he will not join a government with Netanyahu as prime minister.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called for “unusual collaboration” in forming a new government to solve the country’s lingering political stalemate.

The elections on Tuesday, Israel’s fourth elections in two years, ended once again with no clear winner.