Binyamin Netanyahu moves closer to becoming Israeli PM
After securing support from 65 newly elected Parliamentarian the right wing Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, has emerged as top contender for the post of prime minister-designate.
Kadima edged out Likud in the Feb. 10 election, capturing 28 seats compared to 27 for Likud. But in the 120-seat Knesset, Likud is in a better position to put together a coalition because of gains by extreme right-winger Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and other hard-line parties. It could be several weeks before a coalition is finally formed.
President Shimon Peres is expected to formally entrust Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu with building a coalition on Sunday, after making a last-ditch effort on Friday to persuade Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to join a national-unity government.
Following 24 hours in which 65 MKs urged Peres to designate him to form a coalition, Netanyahu said that as soon as that happened, he would ask Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak to join a broad government under his leadership.
"A wide national-unity government is especially necessary in light of the major challenges Israel is facing from Iran, terror and the international economic crisis," Netanyahu said.
But privately, Netanyahu's associates admitted that there was no chance of persuading either Kadima or Labor to join his government and that there was also no hope of breaking up the Kadima faction, where no one has yet challenged Livni's authority.