Report: Obama Will Cancel Israel Visit if No Coalition in Place

U.S. president's visit was expected to take place after the new Israeli government was formed, with the assumption that this would happen by mid-March. Netanyahu is still struggling to form a government, however.

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President Barack Obama will cancel his planned visit to Israeli next month if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition by March 16, Israel's Channel 10 reported on Thursday.

After the Israeli elections on January 22, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was tasked with forming Israel's new governing coalition. March 16 is the legal deadline for Netanyahu to form the coalition, or inform President Shimon Peres that he has been unable to do so.

Obama's visit was expected to take place after the new Israeli government was formed, with the assumption that this would happen by mid-March. A likely date for the visit was set at March 21, although according to a senior Israeli official, the visit would may be postponed until after Passover if the coalition-building process is delayed.

According to Thursday's report, with no coalition in place, Obama will not make it to the Holy Land. Over the past few days, the U.S. Ambassador in Israel Dan Shapiro has been busy gauging the progress of Israel's coalition talks, Channel 10 reported.

Americans sources also told Channel 10 that the Obama administration would like to see Yair Lapid as Israel's next foreign minister.

To date, Netanyahu has only been able to commit Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party to joining the coalition.

Tensions in the negotiations continued on Thursday. On Thursday morning, the three heads of Shas, outgoing Interior Ministry Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri and MK Ariel Atias said that the party will not join Netanyahu’s government later in the future if the prime minister does not bring them in now.

Later Thursday, the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition negotiating team said Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid refuses to sit in a governing coalition with Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties after a meeting between the two parties.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012. Credit: AP

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