Israeli Prez begins talks on new govt

Jerusalem, September 22 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin began two days of crucial talks with party leaders on Sunday before selecting his candidate for PM with a deadlocked repeat election set to make forming any new government a daunting task.

 Israel’s largely ceremonial President is tasked with picking the politician with the best chance of forming a stable coalition government. 

In last week’s vote, Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party won 33 seats in the 120-member parliament while incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud took 31 seats. Neither can muster a majority with their traditional smaller allies.

The deciding factor looks to be Avigdor Lieberman and the eight seats his Yisrael Beitenu party captured. Lieberman is demanding a broad unity government with the two major parties that is secular and excludes the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. — AP