Shorts: Mideast

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Peres gives Livni extension to form government

Israeli President Shimon Peres this week granted Kadima leader Tzipi Livni a two-week extension to put together a coalition government.

During the Oct. 20 meeting, Livni told Peres she was serious about the obligation bestowed upon her to form a government and she hopes to complete the task as soon as possible.

While Livni has initialed an agreement with the Labor Party, talks with two religious parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are stalled over Shas’ insistence that child allowances be raised. The allowance provides a monthly stipend to every Israeli family per number of dependent children. — jpost.com

Abbas hints he may remain in office

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said this week he does not intend to step down when his term ends in January, hinting also that he would run again for president in 2010.

“According to clause 34 of the Palestinian constitution, the elections for parliament and the presidency must take place concurrently,” Abbas said Oct. 20. As Palestinian parliamentary elections are not due to take place before 2010, his statement indicates that he might remain in office until then.

“I am ready for elections immediately. Today, tomorrow or even yesterday,” Abbas said. — jpost.com