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Netanyahu Presses Livni, Barak for Coalition

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met with Ehud Barak to press for a unity government, a day after meeting with Tzipi Livni.

Barak, leader of the left-wing Labor Party, said after Monday’s meeting in Jerusalem that his party will go into the opposition, saying that “the voters have sent Labor to the opposition. That’s where we’re going.”

Netanyahu’s meeting with Barak comes a day after he met with Tzipi Livni to discuss a unity government, which he called “the will of the people.”

Livni and Barak have agreed to meet again with Netanyahu in the coming days.

After the meeting Sunday night, Livni said there was no reason to form negotiating teams. She said Netanyahu did not say whether he would work for a two-state solution when the question was put to him.

“We must unite forces in honor of common goals – peace, prosperity and security,” Netanyahu, head of the Likud Party, said following his meeting with Livni. “If we want to find the points of unity it’s possible, and even necessary. We can and must find a common path.”

Livni has come under pressure from senior party members to join a unity government.

Earlier Sunday, Ehud Olmert congratulated Netanyahu on being chosen to form a new government and urged him to put together a coalition quickly.

“Forming a coalition is, in effect, laying the foundation upon which the State of Israel will stand in the coming years. Therefore, and for the benefit of the Israeli people, I would like to congratulate MK Benjamin Netanyahu and wish him success,” the Israeli prime minister said at the start of the Cabinet meeting.

Olmert added, “I believe that the State of Israel needs a strong, stable government that reflects the will of the people and that will win its confidence in order to deal with the problems in the diplomatic, security and socio-economic spheres. These are complex challenges that require the attention of our best forces. From my perspective, it is also important that it be done quickly.”

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