Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Livni Calls on Netanyahu to Join

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Immediately upon being appointed by President Shimon Peres to put together a new government for Israel, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called upon opposition Likud party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to join her in a national unity coalition. President Peres concluded two days of consultations with the heads of all the Knesset factions on Monday. Later that night, he announced his decision to hand Livni, newly elected head of the Kadima party, the task of constructing a ruling coalition.

In remarks to the media delivered from the President's Residence following the announcement, Livni said, "I call on Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu to join the government in order to promote the issues that he also understands must be promoted at this time."

The Likud is not likely to heed Livni's call. In his meeting with the president before Livni was selected to form the next government, Netanyahu did not offer an alternative to the Kadima leader; rather, the Likud representatives insisted that the nation go immediately to new general elections.

Livni said she would first attempt to create a unity government and - failing that - would try to maintain the current coalition. Only if both options fail will she call for general elections, she said. Livni has a month and a half to put together a coalition. If she can't do so, and she moves to disperse the Knesset, early general elections will be held in the first half of 2009.

"I understand the need for a clarification as quickly as possible of the question of whether it will be possible to create a government under current circumstances," Livni said. "If it turns out that it is not possible, then I will act to promote elections procedures."

In observing the past positions held by the foreign minister, Israel National News political analyst Jay Shapiro commented that her "main characteristic is obsequiousness." She "has left no lasting impression on any of the many offices she has held," Shapiro said.

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