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Israel's Netanyahu calls on main opposition leader to form a unity government

Netanyahu said he preferred to form a right-wing coalition but the results showed that would not be possible.

Netanyahu has said he is open to a unity government.
Netanyahu has said he is open to a unity government.
Image: Tsafrir Abayov

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu called on his main challenger Benny Gantz today to form a unity government together as election results showed both without an obvious path to a majority coalition.

Netanyahu, in a video message, said he preferred to form a right-wing coalition, but the results showed that would not be possible.

The admission was a major development following Israel’s general election on Tuesday that has put Netanyahu’s status as the country’s longest-serving prime minister at risk.

“During the elections, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government,” Netanyahu said.

“But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible.”

He went on to call on Gantz to form a “broad unity government today”.

Gantz has not yet responded but has previously called for a unity government. 

It is unclear, however, if he would accept such a government with Netanyahu, who faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead, remaining as prime minister.

Before the results were released, the incumbent Netanyahu hinted that he would be prepared to consider a unity government but did not specifically say he would. 

“In the coming days, we will enter into negotiations to establish a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government,” he told supporters at a post-election rally in Tel Aviv.

The “anti-Zionist” reference was directed at Israel’s Arab parties, with exit polls showing they could become the third-largest force in parliament.

Fears of election fatigue did not materialise, with turnout at 69.4%, higher than in April polls.

Netanyahu issued a pledge earlier this month to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected on 17 September.

© AFP 2019 

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