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Israeli PM set to return, announcement on Saturday

Last Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 19:57

Jerusalem: Israel`s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be officially authorised by President Shimon Peres to form the government for a third time after his Likud party alliance emerged as the single largest faction in January 22 elections.

"The announcement for who will form the next government will be made on Saturday night (after Sabbath) at the President`s residence," a media adviser to Peres, Yair Zivan, told a news agency.

The Likud-Yisrael Beteinu alliance and Yesh Atid, which has emerged as the second largest faction in the new Knesset have endorsed Netanyahu`s name for the Prime Ministership, he confirmed.

The Israeli President started consultations with the remaining 10 factions today.

Speaking at a press conference, Peres lauded the citizens of Israel for going out to vote, thus helping to "shape the future of the state".

The Nobel laureate Israeli President vowed to facilitate establishment of a government most reflective of the voters` wishes while allowing each faction to make its voice heard.

"I will make an effort to do this with the necessary urgency while allowing each faction to state its positions. I consider this a great privilege and an explicit duty," Peres said.

Representatives of Yesh Atid, which emerged as the second largest faction in the elections, were among the first to meet with the President yesterday.

Party leader, Yair Lapid, a former journalist, told reporters that his party is recommending Netanyahu`s name to head the government.

"In the past, it was common to conduct fervent negotiations before endorsing a Prime Minister," he said.

"This time it hasn`t happened. We asserted in our platform that the person who should form the government should be the leader of the biggest party. We meant it, and this is the recommendation that we made to the President. This is a new brand of politics," Lapid said.

Local media reports said that the Yesh Atid leader, who has emerged the new kingmaker in Israeli politics, has been offered the finance or foreign ministry by Netanyahu.

The inclusion of Lapid`s party will give the much-required stability to the new coalition but it could also mean that Netanyahu may have to leave out some right-wing parties that are considered Liku Beteinu`s natural allies.

In a stunning outcome, the right wing bloc could not manage to register an outright victory, as was predicted by opinion polls, but got a slender, 61-59 lead in the end.

The poll outcome left Netanyahu`s position uncertain but Yesh Atid`s backing has made his continuance in office a near certainty.


First Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 19:57
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