Israel's President Shimon Peres (2nd L) meets Aryeh Deri (L), Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias (R), leaders of the religious Shas party, at his residence in Jerusalem January 31, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday said he had finished meeting all party representatives, and would soon be announcing who he would task to form the new coalition government.
The president "completed his marathon series of meetings today as part of the consultations for the formation of the next government," a statement from Peres's office read.
Peres will "announce the candidate who will be tasked with forming the government on Saturday night," the statement added, without naming the candidate.
But a simple breakdown of the representatives' statements to the president over two days of meetings shows that 82 of the 120 parliament members support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the most suitable candidate.
According to a report in Haaretz, Peres has decided he will present Netanyahu with the task on Saturday night.
Informal talks on forming a viable governing coalition have been under way since the January 22 election, which saw 12 political parties elected to serve in the country's 19th Knesset.
But the process can only begin in earnest after Peres makes his Saturday announcement.
Peres' announcement was to have been made before the Jewish sabbath began on Friday, but he agreed to put it off at the behest of ultra-orthodox party United Torah Judaism, to prevent negotiations during the Jewish holy day of rest.
After the announcement, the nominee will have 28 days to put together a coalition.