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 email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008