Benjamin Netanyahu said he managed to secure an agreement to form a new coalition government after weeks of negotiations with religious and far-right partners.
In a phone call to President Isaac Herzog moments before the midnight deadline, he said: “I wanted to let you know that thanks to the incredible public support we received during the election, I was able to form a government that will take care of all the citizens of Israel.”
His conservative Likud party and religious-nationalist parties close to ultra-Orthodox and West Bank settler communities won a comfortable majority in the November 1 election – winning a majority of 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset.
But the formation of a government has been delayed by disputes over a package of bills on issues ranging from planning authority in the West Bank to ministerial control over the police.
The new government – that Mr. Netanyahu is now due to report within a week – will take office after a year that has seen the worst levels of violence in the West Bank in more than a decade.
Over 150 Palestinians and over 20 Israelis died last year.
Mr Netanyahu said he intended to complete the process of forming his government “as soon as possible next week”.
He will chair a coalition dominated by far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners that could alienate much of Israeli public opinion and increase the risk of conflict with the Palestinians.
Why a Benjamin Netanyahu election victory could be a ‘dark day’ for Israel
Itamar Ben-Gvir, once convicted of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization, has been named security minister, putting him in charge of the national police.
Bezalel Smotrich, who believes Israel should annex the occupied territory, will be given authority over settlement construction in the West Bank as well as the post of finance minister.
Mr Netanyahu – already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister – is on trial for alleged corruption and has spent the past 18 months as opposition leader.
He and his partners are expected to push through a series of laws that will upend the country’s justice system and potentially clear him of any charges.
He claimed to be a victim of the overzealousness of police, prosecutors and judges and denies the charges against him.