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Coalition talks breakdown in Israel as Livni requests early election

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Coalition talks breakdown in Israel as Livni requests early election

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Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has ended talks to form a new coalition government and called for an early parliamentary election. Discussions collapsed after the religious party Shas rejected a coalition pact.

Shas objected to sharing control of Jerusalem with Palestinians and to Livni’s offers on benefits for low-income Israelis. Polls suggest that Israel´s right-wing opposition led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would win any new vote.

The decision by Livni, the successor to scandel-hit outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, means a poll is likely in the new year. An election could put an end to Washington´s hope of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before George Bush leaves office in January.