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Netanyahu May Seek to Form Government of National Unity

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Likud opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu may make an election eve proposal to form a national unity government if he wins the race against Shimon Peres for prime minister.

The proposal, reported Monday in the Israeli media, may be made by Netanyahu in an effort to win the support of undecided voters in Israel’s May 29 national elections.

Netanyahu’s spokesman said there was currently no plan to form a national unity government, but that under certain conditions the Likud leader would not rule it out.

If Netanyahu were to win the race for prime minister and form a national unity government, he would offer certain portfolios to senior Labor Party officials as well as to members of his own party.

Such a proposal would be part of an overall strategy by Netanyahu to distance himself from hardline positions and portray himself as a political moderate.

It could also be an attempt to win over voters put off by the possibility of powerful Cabinet portfolios going to such hard-liners as Likud’s Ariel Sharon and the Tsomet Party’s Rafael Eitan.

Pre-election opinion polls have showed a narrowing gap between Netanyahu and Peres, who still holds the lead among voters.

Peres reacted to the reports of a possible unity government under Netanyahu by saying that he had no intention of losing the race to the Likud leader.

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