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Olmert gets green light to form coalition

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Olmert gets green light to form coalition

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Israel’s President, Moshe Katsav, has formally asked Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to form a new government. His centrist Kadima party won last week’s general election but not by enough to set up its own administration.

Talks are already underway with Labour, which came second, and a number of smaller parties. Olmert has said his top priority is the establishment of permanent borders within four years, with or without Palestinian agreement. Olmert has up to 42 days to complete negotiations on this and other issues with his potential coalition partners. During his address with Katsav, Olmert promised to make “a serious and genuine attempt” to revive peacemaking with Palestinians. Under the so-called “convergence plan”, Israel would close isolated West Bank settlements but keep larger ones. It would establish its frontier along a barrier being built in the West Bank. Palestinians denounce the plans as an attempt to annex land.