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Key rival endorses Netanyahu as next Israeli PM

Far-right Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday endorsed Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu as the country's next prime minister.

Far-right Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday endorsed Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu as the country's next prime minister.

Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party, offered his recommendation to Israeli President Shimon Peres during a meeting in Jerusalem.

The move significantly improves Netanyahu's chances of becoming the next Israeli prime minister. If he is selected by Peres, Netanyahu will have six weeks to build a coalition government.

Peres began meeting the parties of the new parliament on Wednesday evening to decide whether to appoint Netanyahu of the hawkish Likud party or Tzipi Livni of the centrist Kadima party.

Livni edged out Netanyahu in the Feb. 10 election, but the Likud leader has garnered more support from lawmakers.

Two other right-wing parties, Jewish Home and Shas, have indicated they will back Netanyahu, while left-wing parties Labor and Meretz haven't offered support to any candidate, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

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