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Peres sure to ask Netanyahu to form new Israeli government

MYT 3:35:01 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday began talks with political parties over who should form a new government, and appears certain to ask incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assemble it.

Israel's President Shimon Peres (R) sits next to representatives of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu party in Jerusalem January 30, 2013, after receiving the official results of the general elections held on January 22. Peres on Wednesday began consultations with political parties over the formation of a new coalition and appears certain to pick incumbent Netanyahu to assemble it. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israel's President Shimon Peres (R) sits next to representatives of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu party in Jerusalem January 30, 2013, after receiving the official results of the general elections held on January 22. Peres on Wednesday began consultations with political parties over the formation of a new coalition and appears certain to pick incumbent Netanyahu to assemble it. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The formal consultation procedure to nominate a lawmaker to form a government, the president's only important executive power, began after Peres was presented with the official results from last week's general election.

Peres will meet representatives from all 12 parties elected to the Knesset according to size in descending order, and hopes to complete the formalities within days, after which he will assign the coalition building task to one lawmaker.

"I intend to carry out my duties in order that a government that represents the will of the people can be formed as soon as possible," he said.

He began the process by meeting representatives of Netanyahu's 31-seat Likud-Beitenu party, the biggest faction in the Knesset and then with Yesh Atid, a new party led by political novice Yair Lapid which won 19 seats.

Peres's nominee will have an initial 28 days to form a coalition and could seek a 14-day extension if needed. Coalition building in Israel often involves detailed negotiations.

Informal talks between factions began almost immediately after the election results became clear last Tuesday. Netanyahu is expected to partner Lapid's centrist party and the 12-seat far-right Jewish Home or "Bayit Yehudi" faction. The three parties comprise a parliamentary majority of 62 seats.

Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties are also expected to back Netanyahu.

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