Netanyahu meets Livni for unity government in Israel

February 23rd, 2009 - 4:20 am ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, Feb 23 (DPA) Israel’s prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Sunday night in an attempt to bring her Kadima party into the government he is attempting to form.
It is the first meeting between the two since the Feb 10 elections, in which the centrist Kadima won 28 of the 120 Knesset seats at stake, one more than that won by Netanyahu’s hardline Likud Party.

Israeli President Shimon Peres tapped Netanyahu Friday to form the next government, after consultations the president had with other Knesset factions revealed that the Likud leader had the best chance to form a government.

Livni rejected a last-minute plea by Peres Friday to join with Netanyahu in a unity coalition, and on Sunday evening she told the Kadima Knesset caucus that Kadima would be betraying its voters if it compromised its principles to sit in a government with Netanyahu.

Israeli media however speculated Sunday that Netanyahu would offer Kadima a “full partnership” in government, including two of the top three cabinet portfolios - defence, foreign affairs or finance.

Netanyahu has up to six weeks to form a government. He can set up a 65-legislator coalition with right-wing and ultra-orthodox parties, but has said he hopes to form a wall-to-wall unity coalition.

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