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Netanyahu Still Working to Form Government, Granted an Extension

Israeli President Isaac Herzog granted Benjamin Netanyahu another 10 days on Friday to form a government, giving him until December 21 to solidify his plans.

While the Prime Minister-designate has enough Knesset members between his coalition and his party, Likud, to take the reins, he has yet to get all the parties, one of which is extremely right-wing, to agree on certain ministerial roles and a guiding ideology for the new government.

Netanyahu has only managed to get a temporary new Speaker of the Knesset in place, although that has been enough to raise concerns about the future of the balance of power between Israel’s legislative and judicial branches and sounding the alarm that Israel may become a democracy in “name only.”

Netanyahu asked Herzog for a two-week extension due to “many and complex issues of principle.” He said he “will need all the days of extension which are within your authority to give me according to law in order for me to form the government.” Herzog only granted him 10 days.

The President did not elaborate on why he only granted the shorter extension—until December 21—but he urged Netanyahu to “work for the entire public of Israel” and to “maintain a respectful and responsible dialogue between the authorities”—possibly a reference to concerns that Netanyahu’s coalition does not represent the views of many Israelis.

Netanyahu has made progress in the formation of his new government. He has reached an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and their roles. Many other roles are also settled.

Some in the opposition parties believe that Netanyahu is stalling for time to secure the passage of legislation his partners want to be passed.

This week, Netanyahu hinted at a possible peace deal with Saudi Arabia once he is prime minister as a path to peace with the Palestinians, calling diplomatic normalization with Riyadh a “quantum leap” for peace.

If Netanyahu does not formalize his government by the new deadline, Israel will head into its 6th election cycle in four years.

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