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Israel president seeks agreement after 3rd stalemate vote

PTI | Jerusalem | Updated: 11-03-2020 21:33 IST | Created: 11-03-2020 21:08 IST
Israel president seeks agreement after 3rd stalemate vote

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin urged political leaders to seek compromise on Wednesday, as he received official results from Israel's third stalemate election in less than a year. "Any agreement you are able to come to that produces a stable government that gains the trust of the people will be welcomed," he told party heads.

"I am hopeful that the 23rd Knesset (parliament) that will be sworn in next week will last longer than its predecessors," he said, referring to deadlocked polls in April and September 2019. The final results of the March 2 poll showed right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party gaining 29.46 per cent of the vote and 36 seats in parliament.

With his allies -- two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties and a nationalist one -- Netanyahu's right-wing bloc has 58 seats, three short of a majority in the 120-seat knesset. Centrist rival Benny Gantz's Blue and White party gained 26.59 percent, earning 33 seats.

With the support of a leftwing alliance and the tacit backing of the predominantly Arab Joint List, which has 15 seats, he has the backing of 55 lawmakers. In a repeat of the situation following the April and September votes, the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, which won seven seats, holds the balance of power.

Its leader Avigdor Lieberman refused to back either candidate following both elections last year. President Rivlin, whose role is largely ceremonial, has until March 17 to designate a candidate to form a government.

He has previously supported forming a unity government and called on all sides to put aside personal interests. Netanyahu is due to face trial on March 17 over a series of corruption charges he denies..


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