Peres Gives Netanyahu Two Extra Weeks to Form Israel Coalition

Israeli President Shimon Peres granted Benjamin Netanyahu two additional weeks to form a coalition government as the prime minister urged heads of all parties to show responsibility and join together in unity.

“We face huge challenges -- security challenges as well as the challenge of managing a responsible peace process -- and these challenges demand a joining of forces, not a division,” Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast from the president’s residence in Jerusalem.

The prime minister, who last month added former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Hatenuah party’s six seats to the 31 that his Likud-Beitenu ticket won in the Jan. 22 election, still has to gain support from bigger parties such as Yesh Atid, Jewish Home, Shas or Labor to reach the threshold of 61 in the Knesset needed to form a government. Some of them oppose the two-state solution advocated by Livni and the U.S., Israel’s main ally.

The prime minister has said he intends to have his new government in place before President Barack Obama visits in late March. Netanyahu indicated in his remarks today that “boycotts” have been one of the obstacles in creating the government.

“I have no doubt that, in light of the situation, we need a coalition that can deal with very difficult security and social problems as soon as possible,” Peres said in granting Netanyahu the extension.

Peres gave Netanyahu 28 days to form a government on Feb. 2.

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