Peres sure to ask Netanyahu to form new Israeli government

* President sets coalition building process in motion

* Most lawmakers seen wanting Netanyahu for prime minister

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday began talks with political parties over who should form a new government, and appears certain to ask incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assemble it.

The formal consultation procedure to nominate a lawmaker to form a government, the president's only important executive power, began after Peres was presented with the official results from last week's general election.

Peres will meet representatives from all 12 parties elected to the Knesset according to size in descending order, and hopes to complete the formalities within days, after which he will assign the coalition building task to one lawmaker.

"I intend to carry out my duties in order that a government that represents the will of the people can be formed as soon as possible," he said.

He began the process by meeting representatives of Netanyahu's 31-seat Likud-Beitenu party, the biggest faction in the Knesset and then with Yesh Atid, a new party led by political novice Yair Lapid which won 19 seats.

Peres's nominee will have an initial 28 days to form a coalition and could seek a 14-day extension if needed. Coalition building in Israel often involves detailed negotiations.

Informal talks between factions began almost immediately after the election results became clear last Tuesday. Netanyahu is expected to partner Lapid's centrist party and the 12-seat far-right Jewish Home or "Bayit Yehudi" faction. The three parties comprise a parliamentary majority of 62 seats.

Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties are also expected to back Netanyahu. (Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Pravin Char)