Netanyahu forms new gov't, set for third term
By Steve Weizman, AFPJERUSALEM -- Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu formally notified President Shimon Peres on Saturday that after 40 days of tortuous negotiations with potential coalition partners he had formed a new government and ensured himself a third term as prime minister.
March 18, 2013, 10:36 am TWN
“As you know I was able to form a government,” Peres's office quoted premier Netanyahu as saying at a meeting in Jerusalem. “You gave me the task and I carried it out.”
Netanyahu had a legal deadline of Saturday evening to form a government or admit defeat. Completion of the new line-up comes just days before a milestone visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Israel.
“You suffered severe labor pains in the process of forming the government and I congratulate for succeeding in time,” Peres was quoted as telling the premier, in a statement. “Good luck and my blessings to you and the new government.”
Washington was quick to welcome the new Israeli administration.
“The president congratulates the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the new members of the prime minister's governing coalition on the successful formation of Israel's new government,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
“President Obama looks forward to working closely with the Prime Minister and the new government to address the many challenges we face and advance our shared interest in peace and security,” he said.
Obama is set to start a three-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank on Wednesday, his first since taking office more than four years ago.
Eleventh-hour agreements were signed on Friday with the centrist Yesh Atid and far-right Jewish Home parties, which held the key to building a government with a majority in the 120-seat parliament.