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JERUSALEM: Israel’s main political parties began intensive coalition talks yesterday, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally tasked with forming a new government following last month’s election.
Netanyahu, whose rightwing Likud-Beitenu list won a narrow victory with 31 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, now has 28 days to piece together a government facing key diplomatic and foreign policy issues. Netanyahu called on the parties to join him in forming the “broadest possible national unity government” to lead the country through “a decisive period” of its history.
“The most important mission facing a national unity government is stopping the nuclear arming of Iran,” he told ministers in his outgoing cabinet.
The incoming government will also have to deal renewed diplomatic pressure over the frozen peace process with the Palestinians.
And it will also face pressing domestic challenges, with a larger than forecast deficit paving the way for an austerity budget likely to ignite simmering public anger over the rising cost of living.