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New Israeli Parliament Seated; President Calls for Peace Deal This Term

As Israeli seated the 18th parliament in the nation’s history, President Shimon Peres charged the lawmakers with the task of completing a peace deal during its current term. The 120-member parliament, which is farther to the political right than its predecessor, was elected two weeks ago. Binyamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister and head of the Likud party, has been given the opportunity to form a coalition government, a process that could take several more weeks. In the meantime, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continues to head the government in a caretaker role. Despite his conventional description in media as being “hawkish,” “right-winger” or “hard liner,” Netanyahu has been making undeniable efforts to bring Tzipi Livni and her left-leaning Qadima party into a unity government – an endeavor being supported by unambiguous pushing by the Obama administration. Although Livni continues to rebuff Netanyahu’s overtures, her Qadima colleagues have openly accused her of being hasty and analysts believe a unity government remains a possibility. The term of office for an Israeli government is four years – a milestone few have managed to achieve.