Livni to lead peace team in Netanyahu govt

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni will be Israel's negotiator in talks with the Palestinians in the emerging coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a statement said on Tuesday.

Livni, who heads the centrist HaTnuah party, will serve as justice minister and "negotiator with the Palestinians to reach an agreement that would end the conflict," said the statement which was issued by Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu.

HaTnuah, which campaigned for renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians, is the first party to join Netanyahu's new coalition.

The agreement states that a member of HaTnuah will receive the environment portfolio.

Livni has previously served as justice and foreign minister.

Netanyahu, whose rightwing Likud-Beitenu list won a narrow victory with 31 of the Knesset's 120 seats in last month's election, has been struggling to piece together a government facing key diplomatic and foreign policy issues.

He has repeatedly declared his desire for the "broadest possible national unity government" to lead the country through "a decisive period" of its history, listing moves to restart negotiations with the Palestinians as one of his top priorities.