News / Middle East

Netanyahu Gets 14 More Days to Form New Israeli Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Simon Peres speak during a brief ceremony in the president's residence in Jerusalem,  March 2, 2013.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Simon Peres speak during a brief ceremony in the president's residence in Jerusalem, March 2, 2013.
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 Jan. 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."

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid