Israel elections: Netanyahu nominated to form government
Israel's president has nominated Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government, following yet another inconclusive election in the country.
Netanyahu, now the country's longest-serving prime minister with 12 consecutive years in office, will have at least 28 days to negotiate a coalition agreement, though President Reuven Rivlin said he thought success was unlikely.
"The results of the consultations, that were open to all, lead me to believe that no candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset," Rivlin said.
"In fact, if the law would allow me to do so, I would give the decision back to the representatives of the people."
Despite this, he said Netanyahu had a "slightly higher" chance of forming a government.
In Rivlin's consultations with party leaders following the 23 March vote, Netanyahu was backed by 52 lawmakers elected to Israel's 120-seat parliament, the Knesset.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid earned 45 endorsements. There were 16 abstentions and right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett secured seven votes from his own Yamina party.
Rivlin referred directly to the misgivings of many Israelis about having Netanyahu try to form a government as he stands trial on corruption charges.
"I know the position held by many, that the president should not give the role to a candidate that is facing criminal charges, but according to the law and the decision of the courts, a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges," he explained.