The 18th Knesset was sworn in today in Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu continues to try to form a coalition government.
Israeli President Shimon Peres opened the swearing-in ceremony with praise for President Barack Obama and strong statements calling for peace with the Palestinians during the next term. The Jerusalem Post reports:
The president said that "distinguished Arab leaders" had told him that a peace accord with the Palestinians would be recognized as a regional peace agreement that includes Israel.
"Negotiations with the Palestinians need to continue until an accord is found," he insisted. "It stands against our principles to rule another people and it stands against our experience to be ruled by others."
The Post also reports that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was there to convey his hopes that the Knesset will last the full four-year session (the 17th Knesset fell short, dispersing around three months ago).
President Peres called on Netanyahu to form a coalition where parties across the political spectrum may have a voice: "Most of parties voiced a clear preference for a broad national unity government. This is also my request."
Netanyahu, who was appointed by Peres last week with the task of forming the new government, already has most of the Parliament on his side but still says he wants to reach out and include representatives from the Kadima Party. From Al Jazeera English:
Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said that Netanyahu has so far had little success in forming a coalition executive, given that Kadima and the left-wing Labour party have played down a partnership with Likud.
"Netanyhau is really desperately trying to get Kadima and Labour on board, to take part in his coalition - particularly Kadima. He does want to get a centrist government, a broad-based government that is stable," she said.
Finally, Peres discussed the global economic crisis and its effects on Israel. He asked the Knesset to look for innovative solutions to curb the effects of the failing international economy, reports Haaretz.
"We have to find creative solutions to overcome the crisis," he said. "The weak, elderly, and young cannot wait. We have to do it right away, despite the critical issues that menace us, like Iran's nuclear program and the threats of terror in the north and the south."