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Peres set to ask Netanyahu to form Israel govt

Jan. 31, 2013 7:42 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 1, 2013 4:18 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres completed talks with political parties on Thursday and will likely ask incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday to assemble a new government.

Peres held formal consultations with 12 parties elected to the Knesset last week.

Only center-left Labour, ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni's centrist party Hatnua, leftist Meretz and Arab factions, which together control 38 of the parliament's 120 seats, did not ask Peres to pick Netanyahu. Neither did they propose anyone else.

Peres began the process on Wednesday when he met representatives of Netanyahu's 31-seat Likud-Beitenu party, the biggest faction in the next Knesset, and Yesh Atid, a new party led by political novice Yair Lapid which won 19 seats.

Informal talks between groups began almost immediately after the Jan. 22 election. Netanyahu is expected to try to partner Lapid's centrist party and the 12-seat far-right Bayit Yehudi ("Jewish Home") faction. The three parties alone would control a narrow majority of 62 Knesset seats.

Peres will make his announcement on Saturday evening. His nominee will have an initial 28 days to form a coalition and could seek a 14-day extension should further negotiations be needed.
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