Peres gives green light for new Israeli polls

October 28th, 2008 - 12:47 am ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, Oct 27 (DPA) Israel’s President Shimon Peres gave the green light Monday for the country to hold new elections, telling parliament that consultations he had held with political parties led him to conclude that no legislator had enough backing to form a coalition government.The president had completed the consultations earlier Monday, a day after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni informed him that she was unable to form a government to replace that headed by Ehud Olmert, who resigned the premiership Sep 21.

Under Israeli law, and despite Peres’ formal announcement to a packed Knesset (parliament) at the opening of the chamber’s winter session, a majority of lawmakers will have 21 days to present another candidate and if - as is likely - this does not happen, new elections will be held within 90 days or around Feb 10.

In a bid to speed up the process however and skip the 21-day waiting period, Livni’s ruling Kadima party separately submitted a bill Monday to dissolve the parliament and hold the elections sooner.

Kadima caucus leader Yoel Hasson submitted the Knesset dispersal bill to the parliament’s secretariat. A vote on it had yet to be scheduled.

Under Israeli law, the Knesset can be dissolved either by a bill, or by an announcement by the president to the parliament’s speaker that his nominee was unable to form a government. Either way, the elections are expected by March.

Livni was tasked Sep 22 by President Shimon Peres with forming a new government, a day after Olmert resigned to fight corruption allegations.

Olmert however told the Knesset Monday that in light of the failure to form a new government, he would remain as interim prime minister until the new elections.

The 50-year-old Livni, who was chosen to replace Olmert as the head of Kadima in Sep 17 primaries, recommended Sunday that Peres green light early elections, after the ultra-Orthodox Shas party decided against joining her prospective government.

Peres began marathon consultations with all Knesset factions Sunday evening. Granting up to 20 minutes to each, he completed meeting all 13 of them by noon Monday with all of them recommending new elections as soon as possible and indicating no wish to have another lawmaker make another attempt at forming a government.

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