Peres Gives Netanyahu Formal Nod

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L) receives a folder from Israeli President Simon Peres in a brief ceremony charging Netanyahu with forming the next government. (AP Photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L) receives a folder from Israeli President Simon Peres in a brief ceremony charging Netanyahu with forming the next government. (AP Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was seeking on Sunday an even broader coalition than the 82 Knesset members who recommended him for prime minister-designate, publicly calling on those parties that have so far declared themselves for the opposition to join his government.

The invitation was presumably directed to Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich and Movement party leader Tzipi Livni, both of whom have so far declined to give their support to Netanyahu.

“We have to put aside what divides us so that we can have peace among ourselves and with our neighbors,” Netanyahu said. “The broadest, most stable government possible is what is necessary at this time. In our reality, we cannot have boycotts,” he added.

In response, Labor MK Eitan Cabel reiterated to Army Radio that his party would not join the coalition.

Movement party MK Amir Peretz said his party would consider joining the coalition if it was “promised that negotiations for a political settlement with the Palestinians would occur,” Army Radio reported on Sunday.

“The parties that form the government are not important but rather its guiding principles,” Peretz said.

On Motzoei Shabbos, President Shimon Peres formally requested that Netanyahu build a governing coalition after he received the support of a clear majority of the 12 parties that won seats in last week’s election.

Netanyahu said the government’s top priority should be to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu also said his next government would be “committed to peace.”

“I call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come back to the negotiating table,” Netanyahu said. “It’s a shame with every day that passes without us talking and trying to find a solution for peace for our two nations.”