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Netanyahu still working to build coalition: MP
Published on 19 Mar. 2009 12:18 AM IST
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Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is persisting with efforts to form a broad-based coalition, a deputy with his right-wing Likud party said on Wednesday. Netanyahu, charged with forming a government after the February 10 election, is hoping to form a cabinet by the end of this week to avoid seeking a two-week extension that will give him until April 3 to cobble together a union. That goal however looks increasingly unlikely as he has so far signed just one coalition agreement, with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party. Another senior Likud official said on condition of anonymity that "Netanyahu wants to present his government for a Knesset vote on Monday." Netanyahu is widely thought to prefer a broad-based coalition that will have a better chance of surviving the tumultuous world of Israeli politics. Although his Likud party won only 27 seats in the February vote -- one less than Kadima -- he was tasked with forming the cabinet because he was thought to have a better chance at rallying support of at least 61 MPs needed for a coalition in the 120-member parliament. Right-wing parties together have 65 seats in parliament -- Likud 27, Yisrael Beitenu 15, the ultra-Orthodox Shas 11, with three other religious and far-right parties holding 12.

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