Netanyahu gets government extension

March 3, 2013 at 7:40 AM

JERUSALEM, March 3 (UPI) -- President Shimon Peres has granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a two-week extension to form Israel's next government.

Meeting at the official president's residence in Jerusalem Saturday night, Netanyahu blamed two political parties --Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) that won seats in the Jan.22 elections -- for his failure to form a new coalition. Netanyahu said the parties were boycotting ultra-Orthodox parties and refusing to form a coalition, Channel 2 reported.

"The reason there is no coalition so far is because there are boycotts of an entire public in the State of Israel and that does not match my views," The Jerusalem Post quoted him saying.

Netanyahu told reporters he is doing everything possible to unite the nation and build the broadest coalition possible.

"I want to use the coming days to try and form a wide government, and I hope party leaders will show responsibility. Responsibility and leadership in my eyes, is to unite the nation and not divide it, and for that I need additional time," he said.

Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, and Naftali Bennet of the Bayit Yehudi denied the prime minister's accusations

Lapid wrote on his Facebook page that while he does not reject the ultra-Orthodox sector, he is not willing to sit with them in the coalition.

"I do not believe that Shas and UTJ (United Torah Judaism) can sit in a government that will make the changes for which we went to elections: Changing the criteria for [subsidized] housing, core curriculum studies for all, equality in the burden of enlistment and the necessary cuts in yeshiva budgets," he wrote.

Bennet accused the Likud-Beitenu party of boycotting his party and wrote on his Facebook page: "The message from the Likud was simple: at no price will religious Zionism be in the government. Forget about it.'

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