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Middle east

Labour unlikely to join Netanyahu coalition

©

Latest update : 2009-02-23

Israel's Labour Party, the bedrock of the country's politics since the founding of the Jewish state, is unlikely to enter a coalition government led by right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior Labour Party official said.

AFP - Israel's centre-left Labour party is unlikely to join a coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-winger charged with forming the next government, a senior official said on Monday.
  
"I don't see how the Labour party could join the government that Netanyahu is going to create," Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon told public radio.
  
"We want to become stronger while in opposition," he said, shortly before a meeting between Netanyahu and Labour leader and outgoing defence minister Ehud Barak.
  
Labour, the veteran party that has been the pillar of governments since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, saw its worst-ever performance in the February 10 election, winning only 13 seats in the 120-member parliament.
  
On Friday, President Shimon Peres tasked former premier Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud with forming the next government. Bibi, as Netanyahu is widely known in Israel, has six weeks or until April 3 to do so.
  
In theory he can count on support of fellow right-wing deputies for a 65-seat bloc in parliament. He is widely believed to prefer a unity government with centrist Kadima and centre-left Labour, which would be more stable.
  
During a meeting on Sunday with outgoing Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu failed to convince his rival to join his coalition.
  
Kadima won just one more seat in the election than Netanyahu's Likud but the right-wing leader was seen as having a better chance of forming a coalition.

Date created : 2009-02-23

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