Livni to Ask for Two More Weeks

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Foreign Minister and newly elected Kadima party chairwoman Tzipi Livni will likely ask President Shimon Peres for a two-week extension to form a coalition.

According to reports in the Israeli media, Livni is making progress in talks with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, chaired by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai.

She is also making strides with the ultra-left-wing Meretz party and United Torah Judaism , though neither Shas nor UTJ confirm the reports.

"The path to joining the government is still long," Yishai said. "Shas isn't afraid of elections because we aren't afraid of sitting in the opposition and a government without us won't last long," he said.

"I won't be in the government unless I can deliver a real accomplishment, and I won't settle for a trick in terminology to make me feel good," Yishai told reporters.

In addition to the child welfare payment issue, Shas has continually claimed it wouldn't sit in a government negotiating Jerusalem's future, though it never made good on its threats during Olmert's tenure as prime minister, despite discussion of dividing the nation's capital.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On (Kadima) remains opposed to welfare payments in general.

"I am against child welfare payments even if they are called by another name," Bar-On said recently. "I am against any incentive that doesn't encourage people to enter the workforce," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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