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Benjamin Netanyahu announces the formation of a new Israeli gov't

Israel's incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday night that he has formed a coalition government. Pool File Photo by Maya Alleruzzo/ UPI
Israel's incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday night that he has formed a coalition government. Pool File Photo by Maya Alleruzzo/ UPI | License Photo

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Benjamin Netanyahu late Wednesday announced he had succeeded in forming a coalition government that will return him to his former post as prime minister but atop an administration made of far right and religious parties.

Netanyahu informed Israeli President Isaac Herzog of the development in a phone call, a video of which was posted to the Twitter account of Israel's longest-serving leader with the caption: "Thanks to the enormous public support we received in the last elections, I was able to establish a government that will work for the benefit of all Israeli citizens."

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Netanyahu made the call shortly before the midnight Wednesday deadline on forming a coalition government, and nearly two months after he won a majority in the 120-seat Israeli parliament known as the Knesset with a bloc of religious and right-wing parties.

"I've done it," Netanyahu tweeted Wednesday.

Though a majority of the agreements with his partners have not yet been finalized, judicial reform, expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank and the introduction and strengthening of far right and religious influence over state and social institutions, including secular education, are expected to be included, The Times of Israel reported.

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Some coalition leaders late Wednesday seemingly confirmed Netanyahu's announcement.

"We got it," Bezalel Smotrich, the chairman of the rightwing Religious Zionist Party, tweeted.

The November election was the country's fifth in three and a half years, which, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, is the highest frequency of elections among 21 developed countries.

It also comes a year and a half after the last time Netanyahu was prime minister and while he is being prosecuted in an ongoing corruption trial.

Netanyahu is next to inform Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin that he succeeded in forming a government. Levin is then expected to announce the development on Monday during the next legislative session, after which the incoming prime minister will have seven days to swear his new government in.

Amid uncertainty over the future of Israel's government, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month in a speech before the pro-Israel organization J Street conference said the Biden administration expects the new Israeli government to work to advance shared values.

"We'll continue to express our support for core democratic principles, including respect for the rights of the LGBT community and the equal administration of justice for all citizens of Israel," he said. "We will gauge the government by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities."

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He added, however, that they are concerned about a recent uptick in violence between Israel and Palestinians and are "deeply concerned" over a dramatic rise in violence in the West Bank.

"We will also continue to unequivocally oppose any acts that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, including, but not limited to, settlement expansion, moves toward annexation of the West Bank, disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites, demolitions and evictions and incitement to violence," he said.

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