vrijdag 24 oktober 2008

Livni beslist zondag of er verkiezingen komen in Israel

Komen er nieuwe verkiezingen of lukt het Livni om binnen twee weken een coalitie te vormen? Livni heeft aangekondigd aanstaande zondag te besluiten of ze doorgaat met de onderhandelingen of het op nieuwe verkiezingen laat aankomen. Veel vertrouwen tussen de mogelijke coalitiepartners lijkt er niet te zijn, dus het is de vraag of een stabiele coalitie nu mogelijk is. Het is echter allerminst zeker dat de verkiezingen daar verandering in brengen. Geen enkele partij is zo groot dat men met een coalitie van twee partijen kan regeren; er zijn er altijd minimaal drie nodig en waarschijnlijk vier of zelfs vijf, en iedere partij wil vooral zijn eigen 'stokpaardjes' binnen halen. Verwacht wordt dat Likoed de verkiezingen zal winnen, en de zittende partijen zullen verliezen.

The Jerusalem Post
Oct 23, 2008 13:23 | Updated Oct 23, 2008 19:42
Livni: Decision on calling elections will be made Sunday

As the clock ticked on Tzipi Livni's chances of forming a coalition, the Kadima leader said that all would become clear on Sunday, when she would inform President Shimon Peres of her decision.

"The moment of reckoning has arrived," Livni said at a Kadima faction meeting, Thursday. "Decisions need to be made by Sunday and then we will know whether there will be a coalition or elections."

"Negotiations have not been exhausted to their fullest, but time is not on our side," she added.

The Kadima leader insisted that she would not agree to break the budget and that she would not restore child welfare payments to their former levels.

Livni said she was aware of the "price of elections," but stressed she would not act irresponsibly.

In the closed session, the Kadima leader said she preferred a government that was as broad as possible, but admitted that it was not yet clear if she would even get a 61-MK majority, Israel Radio reported.

She stressed that the way to succeed in building a coalition was through unity within Kadima.

"If our partners know that Kadima will not crumble, we will be able to make greater achievements," she said.

During the meeting, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik called for a broad coalition. She also said Shas was "important" for the government and that "it is hard to believe that it wants elections."

However Itzik said that remarks within Kadima expressing opposition to a narrow government were "damaging."

Shas hinted earlier that it would not enter a left-leaning coalition with Kadima, Labor and Meretz, even for a NIS 1 billion increase in child welfare and other budget bonuses.

Livni held a series of talks Thursday with senior officials in Kadima and the few coalition members she has so far managed to persuade to joining her would-be government.

Likud Faction Chairman Gideon Sa'ar rejected Livni's announcement, saying that she was denying the people's right to choose.

"So far," Sa'ar said," five weeks after her election to head Kadima, Livni has done everything in her power to prevent the nation from having its say in an election.

"Who is worthy and capable of leadership, and in which way; one can hope that come Sunday Livni will understand what every child in Israel already knows - that it's too late for a strong, stable and functional government to be established in the current Knesset," Sa'ar added.

On Monday, Livni was granted another two weeks by Peres to negotiate the establishment of a new coalition in the wake of the Kadima primary and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement that he would resign.

But on Thursday, Israel Radio reported that Livni would not use the two-week extension granted to her and would instead make her mind up by early next week whether to call for general elections.

According to Israeli law, if Livni fails to establish a new government, the country will vote for a new leadership within 90 days.

Livni has signaled in the past that she would not cave in to Shas's demands and would even prefer to head a narrow coalition so as to avoid a coalition stifled by the religious, Sephardi-orientated party.

But Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who lost the Kadima primary to Livni by a narrow margin, said he would not agree to a narrow coalition.

"The time to decide has come," Livni was quoted as telling her partners. She said that she believed a coalition could be finalized, but that Shas must decide what it really wants.

She added that the generous offer she made to lure Shas was her final offer.

Three options now existed, Livni opined: a wide coalition with Shas, a narrow coalition without Shas or general elections.

Last week, a source close to Shas chairman Eli Yishai said that "Labor's coalition deal allows Barak to force his viewpoint on the government and to paralyze the cabinet if he does not get his way. This is unacceptable to Shas and takes us one step further away from joining the government."

Shas officials then stressed that their demand for a hefty increase in child allowances had not changed, and that it did not matter to the party whether the prime minister who granted their request was Livni, or Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu after a general election.

Netanyahu met with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at the rabbi's home in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood on Monday morning in an effort to dissuade Shas from joining a coalition under Livni. The meeting was the second between the two since Livni was chosen to lead Kadima on September 17.

"At this time we need a government that will bolster Israel's economy and protect Jerusalem," Netanyahu told the rabbi. "Obviously, this government cannot do that, and therefore there must be an election."

Livni's associates blasted Netanyahu for trying to torpedo a deal between Kadima and Shas.

"On the one hand, Netanyahu says we need stability due to the economic crisis, but his other hand is engaging in petty politics and pushing the country toward an unnecessary election," said Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, who is close to Livni.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report

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