Israel has sworn in its new parliament against a backdrop of political uncertainty, with no new government yet in place.
President Shimon Peres led proceedings at the solemn state ceremony that follows inconclusive elections, earlier this month. But, behind the formalities, tough negotiations are underway to create a ruling coalition.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has so far rejected Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation to take her centrists into a broad alliance.
Netanyahu, who leads the hawkish Likud party, is reluctant to rely on ultra-nationalists for support, after Peres asked him to form a government. But, so far, he is having no luck in wooing more middle-of-the-road partners like Livni’s Kadima or the centre-left Labour Party.
Peres called on the new Knesset to complete negotiations with the Palestinians by the end of its term.
Separately today, Israel’s President urged Europeans to shun Hamas, warning that any sympathy and support for the militant Islamist group that runs Gaza would get in the way of peace.