I'm ready for a grand coalition, says Netanyahu

Israel Materials 20 February 2009 15:32 (UTC +04:00)

The head of the right-wing Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Friday he was ready to form a coalition in Israel with the centrist Kadima party of his main rival Tzipi Livni, dpa reported.

Netanyahu was speaking after a meeting with President Shimon Peres in an effort to build a grand coalition. Peres was also meeting Friday with Livni, who was quoted by Haaretz newspaper as saying she did not rule out joining a Netanyahu-led coalition.

Netanyahu has the support of more of the Israeli parliament's political factions than Livni, even though Likud won one seat fewer in the February 10 general election.

Both sides have claimed the right to form a government, but on Thursday Netanyahu moved closer to being able to form a government after a key faction holding the balance of power in the Knesset recommended that President Shimon Peres nominate him as premier.

The Yisrael Beteinu party's recommendation means that the former premier now can count on the support of 65 legislators, enough to form a narrow coalition.

However Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beteinu's controversial leader, has said that Netanyahu should form a broad-based coalition.