'Primary mission' to stop Iran going nuclear: Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin
Formally tasked with the responsibility to form a new government, Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the "primary mission" of his next government would be to foil Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"We have many internal issues to deal with. But firstly, in the Middle East, we must ensure our security", Netanyahu, whose Likud party's joint list with Yisrael Beteinu party emerged the single largest party in January 22 elections, said in his acceptance speech after being invited by President Shimon Peres to form the next government.

"The primary mission of the next government is to stop Iran from becoming armed with nuclear weapons", the Israeli leader, who won a third term but his right wing bloc and joint list suffered stunning blows at polls, said yesterday.

The pyrrhic victory will have a major impact on Netanyahu's efforts to forge a stable coalition government and he called upon all political parties to help him form a broad

based national unity government.

Outlining major challenges faced by the State of Israel, the Israeli Premier said, "tasks of this nature demand a national unity government, as wide and stable as possible. The reality in which we live has no place for boycotts. And so, I call upon those who said they would not sit in the government to reconsider and to come and find common ground".

"I call upon all sections of society and all the parties, including those who didn't recommend me, to join a responsible national unity government which will be as wide as possible, a government which will ensure the security, the unity and the future of the State of Israel," he stressed.

On the vexed Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said that his government will be committed to peace calling upon Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table.

Peace talks between the two sides hit a dead end during Netanyahu's previous government on the question of continued Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Palestinians set a pre-condition to stop building activities in these areas that they claim to be a part of a future Palestinian state.

Peres last evening invited Netanyahu to form the government after talks with parties elected to Israel's new parliament.

"I have decided to charge Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the government," Peres said at a press conference in Jerusalem, after 82 of the 120 members of the Knesset had declared in favour of the premier.

"I hope that this task will soon be completed," the Nobel laureate Israeli President said, as Netanyahu, who has 28 days to put together a coalition, stood beside him.

In case Netanyahu fails to do so during this period, he may request a two-week extension from the President.

Peres reserves the final say on approving such an extension and its length.

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