Israeli president grants Netanyahu extension to form government

The Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, on Monday approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for a two-week extension to form a government, according to a statement released by his office.

“After you presented the need for additional time to complete forming a government, and according to clause 8 of Basic Law: The Government, I hereby extend the time allocated to form a government by 14 days.’’

Rivlin had initially given Netanyahu four weeks to form a government when lawmakers recommended him to be prime minister after last month’s parliamentary elections.

His deadline would have been May 15, but a two-week extension gives Netanyahu until May 29 to form a coalition.

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It is not uncommon for a prime minister-elect to get an extension.

Netanyahu’s Likud party has said that reasons including the recent Jewish holiday of Passover and other national holidays were behind the extension request.

If Netanyahu succeeds in forming a government, he will begin a record fifth term and overtake David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, as the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

There have so far been no reports of breakthroughs in the negotiations between the right-wing and religious parties taking part, and ministerial appointments have not yet been named.

One particularly contentious issue challenging Netanyahu is long-standing in a spurt of over legislation that would oblige ultra-Orthodox Jews to enlist in the army.

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