Netanyahu gets 14 more days to form new Israeli government

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a brief ceremony at the president's residence in Jerusalem March 2, 2013. Credit: Reuters
Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a brief ceremony at the president’s residence in Jerusalem March 2, 2013.
Credit: Reuters

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an additional 14 days to try to form a new government after he was unable to complete the task during an initial 28-day period.

Talks with potential partners have been deadlocked since elections on January 22 and if he is unable to form a government by March 16 a new poll could be called – a delay that also puts into question a planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu won 31 of the Knesset’s 120 seats – an eroded lead that forced him to cast a wide net for partners while juggling their disparate demands.

During the 28-day period, Netanyahu managed to forge a pact only with the party of former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, whose six-member faction “The Movement” has given him 37 seats, way short of the minimum 61 needed to confirm a new coalition.

In a brief statement following his meeting with Peres on Saturday night, Netanyahu hinted that at least one potential coalition partner refused to sit alongside others.

Netanyahu has faced demands from the parties that placed second and fourth, Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), to slash mass exemptions from military conscription and cut welfare stipends to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

In coalition talks on Friday with Bayit Yehudi, Netanyahu’s chief negotiator said the right-wing party was unwilling to sit alongside ultra-Orthodox parties but Bayit Yehudi officials denied this.

Although he did not name Bayit Yehudi or Yesh Atid as the reason for his inability to form a coalition, Netanyahu said some parties were boycotting others.

“In these past four weeks I tried to form the broadest possible government … I think the ultra-Orthodox public is prepared to accept (demands by other partners) but the main reason that I have not managed to complete the task by today is … because there is a boycott of a certain sector,” he said.

Netanyahu’s outgoing coalition includes two ultra-Orthodox parties which have generally backed him on policies such the settlement of occupied West Bank land in defiance of world powers who support the Palestinians’ drive for statehood there.

Bayit Yehudi is even less accommodating of the Palestinians than Netanyahu, who says he wants to revive stalled peace talks.

NEW ELECTIONS

Should Netanyahu fail to co-opt allies for a parliamentary majority by March 16, Peres could hand the coalition-building task to another lawmaker and if after an additional period no government emerges, Israelis would have to return to the polls.

Netanyahu was backed by 82 of parliament’s 120 lawmakers to form the next government so Peres, whose only real executive power is to nominate a Knesset member to form a government, may opt not to pick another candidate and elections would be called.

Obama is due to visit Israel at the end of March and Netanyahu’s trouble in building a new government raises the question of whether he may call off that visit.

But when asked about Israeli reports he might cancel, an official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was no talk at this point about the possibility of Obama scrubbing the trip.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said: “President Obama looks forward to travelling to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman later this month.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Chestnut Hill College student found dead Wednesday morning

A 22-year-0ld Chestnut Hill College student was found dead this morning inside a college dormitory, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.