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Netanyahu invited to form govt

world Updated: Feb 21, 2009 09:31 IST
Likud party

Hardline Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu was on Friday called to form the new government in Israel by President Shimon Peres giving him six weeks to put together a coalition.

Peres made the announcement of his choosing Natanyahu after holding meetings with him and his rival Tizpi Livni. The new right-wing Prime Minister would have a very narrow margin and as a jolt to him, centrist rival Kadima party leader Livni refused to join his coalition.

An official ceremony appointing Netanyahu as a new Prime Minister was slated for later tonight.

Netanyahu emerged as the leading contender when Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu, endorsed the Likud leader.

Livni, Foreign Minister in the outgoing government, edged out Likud in the elections proving wrong all projections by her party Kadima winning 28 seats to Likud's 27. But faltered in the government formation as most of the hawkish parties backed Netanyahu.

Emerging after meeting President Peres, Livini said she would not join the hardline government and would sit in the opposition.

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