PM Benjamin Netanyahu
The customary 28-day timeframe afforded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form his new government will elapse on Saturday, while the coalition negotiations remain deadlocked.
Netanyahu is likely to ask President Shimon Peres for an additional 14 days, as afforded to him by law, to complete the process.
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The fact that this time the date on which the allotted time ends falls on Saturday – Shabbat – initially caused somewhat of a legal quandary pertaining to the interpretation of the law, but it was eventually decided that the prime minister should appeal for his extension on Saturday night.
The law gives the president discretion over whether or not to approve the request, or limit it in any way.
Should Netanyahu fail to form a government at the end of his additional 14 days, Peres could task another candidate with the responsibility. The president, however, has reportedly told close associates that he plans to grant Netanyahu's request in full.
Netanyahu aspires to have his new government in place by March 20 – when US President Barack Obama will arrive in Israel. Washington has made it clear that if the Likud chairman fails to form a government, the visit will be canceled.
Netanyahu is said to have been keeping Peres abreast of the negotiations, as well as of current security developments in the West Bank.
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