Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has been granted two more weeks to form a new government.

Mr. Netanyahu met Friday with President Shimon Peres and asked him for an extension until April 3.

Mr. Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new government following elections last month but has been trying to build a national unity government with rivals from the more moderate Labor and Kadima parties.

He says a broad coalition government is needed to deal with the security and economic problems facing the country.

Mr. Netanyahu has been trying to convince Israeli Defense Minister and Labor party leader Ehud Barak to join the new government.  Barak issued a statement Wednesday urging his party to seriously consider the offer.

Israeli media reports say the prime minister-designate has offered to keep Barak on as defense minister if the Labor party joins the government coalition.

However, most members of the Labor party are against joining a coalition that includes far-right wing parties that oppose a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu's hawkish Likud party reached a deal with the ultra-right Yisrael Beitenu party on Sunday.

Mr. Netanyahu served as Israel's prime minister in the 1990s.