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Binyamin Netanyahu to be Israel's Next Prime Minister

by David Byers

Binyamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Likud leader, is to be Israel's next Prime Minister after President Shimon Peres ask him to form a coalition government today.

Binyamin Netanyahu to be Israel's Next Prime Minister.(Kevin Frayer/AP) Mr Netanyahu finished a close second behind Tzipi Livni, candidate for the centrist Kadima party, in the country's general election, winning 27 seats to Ms Livni's 28.

However the Likud leader yesterday won the crucial endorsement of Avigdor Lieberman, whose ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party finished third overall.

As a result, Mr Peres has decided that Mr Netanyahu - and not the Kadima leader - is best placed to form a coalition government with Ms Livni relying instead on the support of poorly-performing left-wing parties.

"The President has made a decision regarding the formation of the government and the presidency will summon deputy Benjamin Netanyahu at 1415 (1215 GMT) to entrust him with this task," Mr Peres's office said.

Despite support from the far-right, Mr Netanyahu is known to want to form a coalition with Kadima.

However, Ms Livni has said that she will not join a government which she would regard as hostile to making progress in the peace process and was prepared instead to enter opposition. "I will not be a pawn in a government that would be against our ideals," she said.

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