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Israel's Peres to ask Netanyahu to form new coalition

Published on Feb 3, 2013 6:02 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) receives a folder from Israeli President Shimon Peres in a brief ceremony at the president's residence in Jerusalem Feb 2, 2013. Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday formally asked incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new governing coalition following the Jan 22 general election. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - President Shimon Peres tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday with forming a new government after talks with parties elected to Israel's new parliament.

"I have decided to charge Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the government," Mr Peres said at a press conference in Jerusalem, after 82 of the 120 members of the Knesset had declared in favour of the premier.

"I hope that this task will soon be completed," Mr Peres said, as Mr Netanyahu, who has 28 days to put together a coalition, stood beside him. "Israel is in need of political and economic stability in order to be able to take necessary decisions on the serious subjects that are on the agenda," the president said. "These challenges are numerous, serious and urgent."

Mr Netanyahu reaffirmed what he said after the election - that his top priority was to "prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms." He also repeated that he would seek to form the "largest government possible," and called on opposition parties to join it. Formal coalition talks are to begin on Sunday.

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