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Netanyahu aides to contact potential centrist partner


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo - Reuters

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing alliance was to reopen talks on Thursday with a possible coalition partner, two days before an initial deadline to form a new government, officials said.

Likud spokeswoman Noga Katz told AFP that alliance negotiators would meet representatives of the centrist Yesh Atid party for what media said would be their first talks in two weeks.

After the Likud-Beitenu alliance failed to win a majority in last month's election, President Shimon Peres on February 2 tasked Netanyahu with seeking to form a coalition, giving him the initial 28 days mandated by law for the task.

That period expires on Saturday.But Netanyahu's partner Avigdor Lieberman, head of the hardline secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, said he would ask for the usual two-week extension.

"It's not yet clear what the composition of the next coalition will be but it's certain that there will be a government," Lieberman told public radio.

"I don't remember a government ever being formed in the first 28 days," he said. "I imagine that we shall this time too need another two weeks but in the end there will be a good and stable coalition."Katz also said Netanyahu would likely ask for an extension.

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