Netanyahu seeks two-week extension to form Israeli government

March 20th, 2009 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, March 20 (DPA) Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu Friday asked Israeli President Shimon Peres for a two-week extension to form his government.
Netanyahu arrived at Peres’ Jerusalem residence to make the formal request.

Following Israeli’s elections last month, where Netanyahu’s Likud party came second but with the strongest likelihood of forming a coalition, the country’s constitution gave the prime minister-designate 28 days to form a government, with a 14-day extension option.

Netanyahu, already a one time prime minister of Israel, is making the request amid last-ditch efforts to have the centre-left Labour Party of outgoing Defence Minister Ehud Barak join his coalition.

If he fails, he will have a narrow, right-wing government with several ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties.

He also still hopes to convince the centrist Kadima party of outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to join too, but her aides have said she has made a “strategic decision” not to.

The Labour Party, for its part, is torn, with Barak pushing for it to join, despite the objections of a majority of lawmakers. He wants the Labour Party’s convention to vote on the Likud proposal Tuesday.

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