The President meets with Likud leader after receiving official election results, but not before apparent criticism of Netanyahu's comments against Arab voters.

The President meets with Likud leader after receiving official election results, but not before apparent criticism of Netanyahu’s comments against Arab voters.

by Stephen Oryszczuk

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to form the next government by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, but not before being ticked off for controversial election day comments about Israeli Arabs “voting in droves”.

In a not-so-subtle dig at the incumbent, Rivlin said a high voter turnout was a blessing.

He added: “Shame on us if we view the fulfilment of the democratic duty of voting as a curse, or something that must be warned against.”

Netanyahu now looks set to build a right-wing cabinet that will control 67 of parliament’s 120 seats, after his Likud party took a quarter of all seats available earlier this month.

Naftali Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home, with eight seats, and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, with six, have already offered to join a Netanyahu cabinet.

Both parties are opposed to a Palestinian state, as is Netanyahu, declaring so on the eve of the vote.