Israel PM in final throes of forming coalition
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday entered the final stretch of talks to form a new coalition government which will be sworn in just days before a visit by US President Barack Obama.
Time is of the essence for the Israeli leader who is facing a final deadline of March 16 to announce the shape of his new government after receiving a two-week extension to the initial 28 days he was given.
If he fails to piece together a working majority of at least 61 MPs, the task will be handed to another party leader. He has also been under the additional pressure of preparing for a long-awaited visit by Mr Obama, who will arrive on March 20 for a three-day trip visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories - his first since becoming president.
Protocol dictates that Mr Netanyahu inform President Shimon Peres when he has succeeded in forming a government, after which the new coalition must be approved by the parliament, or Knesset, and sworn in.