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Originally published Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 7:04 PM

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Israel’s Netanyahu gets 2 more weeks to form governing coalition

Netanyahu has been struggling to form a coalition since January elections. His Likud-Yisrael Beitenu bloc won 31 seats in the 120-seat parliament, far short of the 61-seat majority he needs.

The Associated Press

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JERUSALEM — Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday granted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu another two weeks to form a governing coalition, after Netanyahu failed to build a broad coalition including ultraorthodox Jewish parties.

In a televised address, Netanyahu told Peres that he has yet to build a coalition because some parties wish to “boycott” an entire Israeli demographic. It was a reference to the nationalist Jewish Home and centrist Yesh Atid parties, which have refused to join his coalition.

If Netanyahu fails to reach a government in two weeks, political newcomer Yair Lapid who heads Yesh Atid, Israel’s second largest party, could be offered the chance to form the coalition, or new elections could be held.

Netanyahu said he believes the parties will come to an understanding about the draft exemptions, and that ultraorthodox Jewish Israelis will eventually accept them. He took a jab at the pro-settler Jewish Home party, saying that those who refused to align with specific sectors of Israeli society are acting like those around the world who wage boycotts against settlement activities.

Netanyahu has been struggling to form a coalition since January elections. His Likud-Yisrael Beitenu bloc won 31 seats in the 120-seat parliament, far short of the 61-seat majority he needs.

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