Jerusalem – Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has reached an impasse in her negotiations to form a new Israeli government coalition. Ms. Livni has less than two weeks to go before President Shimon Peres will be forced to turn to other options.

It is expected that Ms. Livni will announce on Sunday whether or not she will form a new coalition or encourage new elections within 90 days, as proscribed by Israeli elections law.

If new elections are called for, that would leave the current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in power until the end of the year.

Mr. Olmert has promised to use any and all time at his disposal to negotiate binding agreements with the Palestinian Authority and with Syria, despite a directive by the Israeli Attorney General Manny Mazuz that advised that no further policy decisions should be taken by the Olmert government.

This instruction was issued because Mr. Olmert has announced his resignation as the prime minister of Israel and due of criminal investigations that are now pending against him.

Coalition talks between Kadima and religious Shas party are currently stalled after Shas rejected what it said was Ms. Livni’s latest offer.

However, Shas issued a statement that Kadima was misleading the public, and had also tried to deceive the party. “We did not ask for money for the [Jewish learning academies],” Shas Communications Minister Ariel Atias told the Israeli media, adding that “We didn’t want it and we don’t understand why they are pushing it. We asked them why they were doing this, as it already appears in the coalition agreement.”

Meanwhile, Kadima has continued talks with the Meretz peace party, and the senior citizens’ Pensioners Party, with whom she believes she might be able to form a narrow coalition if all else fails.

At the same time, coalition talks between Kadima and the Gil Pensioners Party ran into trouble on Thursday when Pensioners Party leader Rafi Eitan angrily canceled a meeting with Kadima representatives. Mr. Eitan told the Israeli media that the draft agreement written by Kadima “proves that pensioners are not among the designated Prime Minister’s top concerns.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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