Tensions are running high in the North of Israel. The IDF is bracing for possible retaliation by Syria, Hezbollah, and/or Iran after its recent air strikes on Syrian targets. Some Mideast analysts believe it’s just a matter of time before there is significant trouble on Israel’s northern borders. Other analysts, however, say Israel took a calculated risk, hit what it needed to, enhanced its deterrance, and that retaliation is unlikely.
With this backdrop, Israeli President Shimon Peres formally gave Netanyahu permission to begin putting together the nation’s next government, a process that could take several weeks and could be complicated by the security challenges facing the Jewish state.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night promised to establish ‘the widest possible national unity government’ and urged even those political leaders who did not recommend him as prime minister to reconsider and join him,” reports the Times of Israel. “Netanyahu spoke immediately after President Shimon Peres, at a ceremony at the President’s Residence, formally charged him with the task of forming the next government. Netanyahu said the first priority of his new government would be thwarting Iran’s effort to attain nuclear weapons. He also pledged to seek peace, saying ‘every day that passes’ without negotiations with the Palestinians was a day wasted, and urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come back to the peace table.”
“Netanyahu, who was recommended as prime minister by 82 of the 120 incoming MKs, also pledged to try to heal many of Israel’s internal divides — on equality of military service, on easing economic burdens, and on electoral reform — ;without tearing the nation apart,’” notes the Times. “Netanyahu, noting that he would be starting his third term as prime minister — having held the post from 1996-99 as well as in the last four years — thanked the public and the MKs who backed him ‘for the faith you have placed in me’ and said he saw the job as a privilege and an honor….He said Israel had weathered the global financial crisis in large part because of the stable government he headed these past four years, but that the economic and security challenges in the region were actually becoming more grave. The dangers facing Israel were the worst it had faced for many years, he said. Therefore, although his next government would tackle domestic challenges, Israel’s security would come first, and the top priority would be thwarting Iran’s nuclear weapons drive ‘and other threats to our nation and our citizens.’”