Coalition deadline likely to be extended

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The customary 28-day time frame afforded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form his new government will elapse March 2, while coalition negotiations remain deadlocked.

Netanyahu is likely to ask President Shimon Peres for an additional 14 days, as afforded by law, to complete the process.

The law gives the president discretion over whether to approve the request or limit it in any way.

Should Netanyahu fail to form a government at the end of his additional 14 days, Peres could task another candidate with the responsibility. The president, however, reportedly has told associates he plans to grant Netanyahu’s request in full.

Netanyahu hopes to have his new government in place by March 20, when President Barack Obama will arrive in Israel. Washington has made it clear that if the Likud chairman fails to form a government, the visit will be canceled. —