Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu formally received the mandate on Sunday from President Isaac Herzog to form a new governing coalition.
Netanyahu now has 28 days in which to form a coalition, with an additional 14-day extension possible if needed.
In his remarks, Herzog commented that he was “not oblivious, of course, to the fact that there are ongoing legal proceedings against [Netanyahu] at the Jerusalem District Court, and I do not trivialize this at all.
“Nevertheless,” he said, “it is important to note that the Supreme Court has already expressed itself clearly on the matter of pending indictments against a member of Knesset nominated for the role of forming a government, in a number of rulings, including with an expanded panel of eleven justices, when the task of forming a government was assigned to MK Netanyahu by my predecessor, President Reuven Rivlin.
“In light of all this, having considered the facts in accordance with the law, and after you gave your consent to this, as required by law, I have decided to assign to you, MK Benjamin Netanyahu, the task of forming a government,” Herzog said.
“The State of Israel requires a government that even if its composition does not reflect all worldviews and sections of the legislature nevertheless knows to lead a process of connection and unification—between all parts of our people—and to conduct a responsible, cautious, open, frank, and attentive dialogue with the other branches of government.
“It is important that we remember: we, as a people, have no room for critical mistakes. Every government must behave with immense caution on matters of fateful importance for our existence, for the defense of our security, and for the preservation of our most fundamental contours as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Herzog added that Netanyahu is an “experienced public servant who has served in a plethora of senior roles in our country, including several terms as Prime Minister of Israel” and therefore “knows well” which most urgent issues and challenges are on the agenda, including threats both internal and external, alongside important opportunities.”
In his response, Netanyahu vowed to be the prime minister of “all of Israel’s citizens, without exception.”
He commented that although there were many who welcomed the election results, there were also those who have made “outrageous prophecies” and therefore “frighten the public.”
Netanyahu noted that this is not the first time such things have taken place. “They said it about [late Prime Minister Menachem] Begin, they said it about me too; it wasn’t true then and it’s not true today either,” he said.
“I intend to be a prime minister for everyone – for those who elected me and for those who did not elect me,” he said. “It reflects what I believe in and what guides my actions.”