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Updated: January 31, 2013 05:01 IST

Two Israeli parties endorse Netanyahu for new term

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Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel’s two largest political parties endorsed Benjamin Netanyahu for Prime Minister post on Wednesday, all but guaranteeing him a third term at the beginning of the post-election process of forming a new government.

Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the new Yesh Atid Party made their recommendations to President Shimon Peres, who consults with all 12 parties that won parliamentary seats in last week’s election before deciding whom to choose as prime minister-designate. Mr. Peres is expected to make his decision by Friday.

With Mr. Netanyahu at the head of the largest faction in parliament, Mr. Peres is almost certain to appoint him. Mr. Netanyahu would then have up to six weeks to form a coalition government. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beitenu list won 31 seats in the election, far ahead of all rivals.

“There is really only one candidate who can build a government in Israel, one which must be as broad as possible,” Education Minister Gideon Saar, a top Likud official, told Mr. Peres, referring to Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu would need to control 61 seats to secure a majority in the 120-member parliament.

Yesh Atid’s leader, political newcomer Yair Lapid, told Mr. Peres this evening that Mr. Netanyahu should be premier.

“Yesh Atid’s platform says that the party with the most seats should lead the government,” Mr. Lapid said.

The comments removed some of the drama from the coalition-building process in the coming weeks. Mr. Lapid is expected to become Mr. Netanyahu’s main coalition partner. His party won 19 seats.

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