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Netanyahu to be designated to form coalition
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21:15, February 20, 2009

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Israeli President Shimon Peres is to designate on Friday afternoon Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next coalition.

Peres is to invite Netanyahu to his office in Jerusalem at 2:15p.m. (1215 GMT) Friday to charge him with the task, spokesperson for the President of Israel, Ayelet Frish, told Xinhua.

Peres made the decision after making last-ditch efforts to persuade Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to join a national-unity government.

The Israeli president held separate meetings with Netanyahu and Livni earlier in the day in an effort to promote a broad national-unity coalition that would include both Likud and Kadima, according to a statement released from the president office.

"I understand the need for unity. Immediately after you place on me the responsibility with putting together the coalition, I will summon Kadima for negotiations," Netanyahu was quoted by local daily Yedioth Ahronoth as saying.

Livni said at the conclusion of her meeting with Peres that "whoever is willing to forsake all his values in order to sit in the coalition is unworthy to sit in that spot. There is a coalition here based on a lack of political vision, a coalition that will not allow me to exercise the way of Kadima."

Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) meets with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu about forming a new Israeli government in Jerusalem, Feb. 20, 2009. Peres began on Wednesday evening his consultations with Knesset (parliament) factions ahead of selecting the next premiership candidate.(Xinhua/GPO)

"A broad coalition has no value if it does not lead the way. I cannot be a cover for a lack of way," Livni was quoted as saying.

After consultations with Knesset (parliament) representatives on Wednesday and Thursday, Peres found a majority of 65, all the right-wing and religious factions, supporting Netanyahu to form the coalition.

Meanwhile, Livni garnered the support of the 28 members of her own party. Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties chose not to recommend any candidate to Peres.


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