Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has picked up tentative support that could give him the inside track on forming a coalition government and becoming Israel’s next prime minister.
Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beytenu, a right-wing party, said he would recommend Netanyahu for the post, but only if he promises to form a broad-based coalition government, a spokesman for the Israeli president’s office said Thursday. In last week’s parliamentary elections, no single party won the minimum 61 seats needed to form a government. That means a government of two or more parties is virtually inevitable. The ruling moderate Kadima Party won the most seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. But Kadima, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, received only one more seat than Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party. The strong showing of other right-wing parties — including Yisrael Beytenu and the Orthodox Shas movement — is thought to give Netanyahu a better chance of forming a coalition government.
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Israeli President Shimon Peres began consulting with party leaders Wednesday.
Peres has six more days to consult with lawmakers, who will have the opportunity to select a party leader to form the new government. A party leader would need the support of at least 61 Knesset members, which is highly unlikely. Peres probably will have to chose a party leader. To become Israel’s next prime minister, that person must form a coalition within six weeks, or the process will start all over.