Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he has successfully formed a new coalition, setting the stage for him to return to power as Prime Minister of the most right-wing Israeli government ever to hold office.
Netanyahu made the announcement in a phone call to President Isaac Herzog moments before a midnight deadline. His Likud Party released a brief video clip of the smiling Netanyahu and a recording of the conversation.
“I wanted to announce to you that thanks to the amazing public support we received in the elections, I have succeeded in forming a government that will take care of all the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The call came after weeks of difficult negotiations between his Likud party and his power-sharing partners. Netanyahu said he intends to complete this process “as soon as possible next week”. A date for his swearing-in was not immediately announced.
Even if he is successful, Netanyahu faces a difficult task ahead. He will preside over a coalition dominated by far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners pushing for dramatic changes that could alienate large sections of the Israeli public, raise the risk of conflict with the Palestinians and put Israel on a collision course with some of its closest supporters, including the United States and the Jewish American community.
Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, serving a total of 15 years before he was ousted last year. He has claimed he is a victim of overzealous police, prosecutors and judges. But critics say the plans, including an expected proposal that would allow parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions, will destroy the country’s democratic institutions and system of checks and balances.
The US and European Union have both said they will judge the new government by its policies, not its personalities.