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PM calls on all factions to join unity government
By LAHAV HARKOV, GREER FAY CASHMAN
02/02/2013
Netanyahu urges Abbas to resume peace talks; main objectives of new gov't deal with Iran, economy, equalizing national burden.
 
Coalition talks will officially begin on Sunday, after President Shimon Peres tasked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with forming the next government.

Netanyahu called on leaders of parties that announced they would not serve in his government to reconsider and stressed the need to form a national unity government to deal with the issues facing the country, both domestically and internationally.

Likud Beytenu’s negotiating team will meet with Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Shas in Ramat Gan on Sunday, on the first day of coalition talks. Netanyahu has 28 days from Saturday to form a new government, but may request a 14-day extension.

“We have to put aside what divides us so that we can have peace among ourselves and with our neighbors,” Netanyahu said. “The broadest, most stable government possible is what is necessary at this time. In our reality, we cannot have boycotts,” he added, possibly a reference to Yesh Atid’s reluctance to joining a coalition with haredi parties.

Netanyahu emphasized security issues, saying that the first mission of the next government will be to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, as well as stopping “other deadly weapons that are being accumulated in our region and threatening our cities and citizens.”

The prime minister also said the next government will be committed to peace and called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table.

“Every day that passes without talks is unfortunate,” he said. “We are looking for a solution of peace between our nations.”

Netanyahu mentioned the international economic crisis, saying his government will work to create more jobs, continue growth and lower the cost of living and housing.

Sending a message to Yesh Atid and haredi parties, the prime minister called to create more equality in the burden of service, but in a responsible manner that will “bring a comprehensive change without tearing apart the nation or bringing a civil war.”

Eighty-two MKs from six parties recommended Netanyahu for the role of prime minister during meetings with the president on Wednesday and Thursday.

Peres said he hoped the forming of the next government could be done “as quickly as possible, because the State of Israel requires political and economic stability.”

On Sunday, Likud Beytenu’s negotiating team, including the prime minister’s attorneys Yitzhak Molcho and David Shimron, Netanyahu’s cousin, former Prime Minister’s Office director-general Moshe Leon and attorney Yoav Mani, will meet with Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Shas.

Yesh Atid’s team consists of Brig.-Gen. (res.) Hillel Kobrinsky, Uri Shani, an ex-adviser to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, and Danny Vesely, a close friend of party head Yair Lapid’s and former producer of his Channel 2 talk show.

Bayit Yehudi’s negotiators include MK Uri Ariel, second on the party list, as well as lawyer Eitan Haberman.

Shas is sending a professional team, without politicians, consisting of attorneys David Glass, Nadav Asael, the party’s legal adviser, and Moshe Abba, formerly deputy manager of the Finance Ministry budget department.

On Monday, Likud Beytenu will meet with United Torah Judaism, The Tzipi Livni Party and Kadima.

Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz hinted on Saturday night at talks between him and Lapid to merge their parties.

“A combination of centrist parties is important and correct,” he said on Channel 2’s Meet the Press. “I am definitely not returning to the Likud.” •
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