21 Mar 2009

Likud leader given more time to form new govt

9:16 am on 21 March 2009

Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been given another two weeks to form a new government in Israel.

Under Israeli law, he now has until 3 April to form a coalition, following recent elections.

Mr Netanyahu met President Shimon Peres on Friday to discuss the make-up of his proposed government.

Correspondents say he is trying to convince the Labour Party to join. Otherwise, he will be forced to form a narrow coalition with hard-line parties.

The BBC reports Likud was narrowly defeated by Kadima in the election on 10 February, but Mr Netanyahu has the support of religious and right-wing parties which make up more than half of Israel's parliament.

During his meeting with Mr Peres, Mr Netanyahu reportedly said he needed the extension in order to try to form "a national unity government".