21 Feb 2009
RIGHT-WINGER Benjamin Netanyahu is to form the next Israeli government and become Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.
Even though his Likud Party lost last week’s general election by one seat to the centrist Kadima Party, President Shimon Peres has decided that Netanyahu has a better chance of forming a coalition than Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.
In a move that will put Israel on a collision course with the Obama administration, Peres confirmed that he had asked the Likud leader to build a coalition.
Netanyahu, who opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state, now has six weeks to form a government amid strong pressure from the Israeli public for one of national unity.
Livni offered to rotate the premiership with Netanyahu but he refused.
Netanyahu acknowledged ‘ the need for unity’ yesterday, adding: ‘ Not for decades have we stood before such a mass of such enormous and severe challenges at one time.’