24 Jan 2013

Coalition talks in Israel

10:59 am on 24 January 2013

Coalition talks have begun in Israel after general election results gave right-wing and centre-left blocs 60 seats each in parliament.

President Shimon Peres is expected to ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attempt to form a new government.

His Likud-Beitenu alliance lost a quarter of its seats in the Knesset, but remains the largest grouping with 31.

The BBC reports Netanyahu has already spoken to Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid party, which has emerged as a new force in Israeli politics, with 19 seats.

Mr Lapid has said he will only join a government that's ready to revive the peace process with the Palestinians.

But he also said on Wednesday he will not join any bloc aimed at preventing Mr Netanyahu from forming a new coalition government.

Addressing Likud supporters after preliminary results were announced, Mr Netanyahu promised to form as "as broad a government as possible".

"It is an opportunity to make changes that the citizens of Israel wish upon themselves and that will serve all the citizens of Israel," he said.