Netanyahu gets coalition extension

AFP-JIJI

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a two-week extension to form a new coalition government, after he failed to do so in an initial four-week period.

After his Likud-Beitenu list emerged as the largest party in the Jan. 22 election, winning 31 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, Netanyahu was on Feb. 2 tasked with forming a coalition.

If the additional two weeks passes without Netanyahu managing to form a coalition government, Peres will then have to ask a different member of Parliament to try to form a government.

The prime minister was reportedly leaning toward forging a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties as well as Yesh Atid, which came second in the vote, and with the far-right Jewish Home, which came fourth. But both Yesh Atid and Jewish Home were against concessions to ultra-Orthodox parties on the contentious issue of army and civilian service, and formed a pact that neither party would enter a coalition without the other.