Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised the leader of the opposition, Tzipi Livni, with an offer to join the Likud-led right of center coalition government, saying Israel was faced with existential choices that required a broad coalition to form a unity government. By existential choice, Netanyahu is referencing Iran. The Kadima leader, and the former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni did not reject the proposal out of hand.  The story in Haaretz:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked opposition leader Tzipi Livni, the chairwoman of Kadima, on Thursday to join a unity government. Livni did not immediately reject the offer, and added that if the offer is real "I always said that it is up for discussion."

Livni clarified that any decision regarding Kadima's moves will be taken by the party after thorough discussion and not by her alone.

Netanyahu told Livni that Kadima's addition to the government was crucial in light of the local and global challenges facing Israel today.

During their meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, Netanyahu briefed Livni on political and security issues on the government's agenda, telling her that the basis for joining a unity government would be principles of peace and security that he outlined in his foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan University in June.

Netanyahu offered Livni to include four Kadima members in inner cabinet discussions, should Kadima join the proposed unity government, but he didn't offer ministerial portfolios.

The meeting between the prime minister and the opposition leader comes on the tail of Livni's accusation earlier Thursday that Netanyahu was trying to split Kadima, currently embroiled in a proxy war over the faction's leadership.

Kadima No. 2 Shaul Mofaz on Thursday demanded that Livni take the party to primary elections, telling reporters after their afternoon meeting that he hoped she would "listen to others, for once" and keep the party from breaking up.

The rift at the top of Kadima worsened on Wednesday, after MK Mofaz lashed out at Livni, saying it was her lack of leadership that has reportedly led 14 of Kadima's 27 MKs to start negotiations with Likud about moving to that party.

Mofaz met Livni at her north Tel Aviv home on Thursday afternoon, hours before the faction's council was to convene to discuss the future of the party.

Livni told Mofaz during the talks that she feared Netanyahu was "trying to split Kadima. It's on the table and it's a fact." She urged Mofaz, along with other senior members of the party to do everything possible to keep Netanyahu from "weakening Kadima."

Kadima, a centrist party by Israeli standards with 27 seats, is the largest single party in the 120-member Knessett. Israeli political observers seem to think that Netanyahu's offer is not much more than an attempt to destroy his only significant internal opposition by luring about a dozen of Kadima members to form a breakaway party and join the government.

Certainly events in the Middle East have been moving quickly over the latter part of 2009: a financial collapse in Dubai; a tribal revolt by a Shi'ite minority that has led to a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen; US drone attacks in Yemen targeting Al-Qaeda operatives; a border dispute between Iran and Iraq amidst attacks on Shi'ites; an Egyptian move to seal off the Gaza Strip; a rapprochement between Syria and Turkey that perhaps has left the Israelis worried; a historic visit to Damascus by Saad Hariri, the new prime minister of Lebanon; an Al-Qaeda attack against a Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in Riyadh; and the on-going but going nowhere talks between the West and Iran over the nuclear issue now set against the backdrop of increasing protests and unrest in the Islamic Republic. Never a dull moment.

Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel, Kadima, Likud, Tpizi Livni, US Mid-East Policy (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Take your eye off of a part of the world

for a moment and wham it all falls to pieces.

You could add oil prices down and Hezbollah in a defacto co-governmental role in Lebanon.

by Jeff Wegerson 2009-12-24 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Take your eye off of a part of the world

After the great death and destruction Israel wrought on Lebanon in 2006, you can only imagine that the Lebanese have had second thoughts about Hezbollah, who stopped the Israeli land invasion. I forgot the death tolls but remember well pictures of parents holding their dead and bloodied children. I also remember news about the children who continued to die and get maimed afterward by unexploded American made cluster bombs. And I also remember a stupid American president who gave the go-ahead because sometimes you have to kick ass, or whatever dumb thing he said.

And the whole episode was about nothing more than a small piece of Lebanon that Israel wanted to keep, Sheba Farms.

by MainStreet 2009-12-25 03:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government
Kadima only exists because Sharon and most of the rest of Israel wanted to keep the hard-right and rejectionist Netanyahu out of government.
 It is Likud lite. It may be more willing to deal than Bibi, but I wouldn't bet on it having that much staying power as the israeli public seems to be moving ever more to the right. THey might as well go home to papa.
by brooklyngal 2009-12-24 04:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

I believe your read is the correct one. Anyone who believes that there is some separation between the goals of Likud or Kadima is engaging in fantasy.

by MainStreet 2009-12-24 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

Kadima shifted quite a bit in the last election to the left than where they were previously. A lot of voters left Labour, and joined Kadima, because of the latters shift. I'm not saying that's represented in the Kadima representation, just that it is a part of coalition that backed them. If they join the gov't now, there's no reason for them at all.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-25 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

A lot is going on in this region, but the only constant and stable, reliable process is the incessant occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories. Even now, it continues apace, in spite of the pseudo-freeze we have been asked to believe in. Everything else that happens is an irrelvant coda to this colonial process.

by MainStreet 2009-12-24 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

he is making a smart move. This will put up a united front to the Palestinians and coerce Abbas to finally accept a deal, after he rejected the sweetheart one last year. Also, it will help put up a stronger from to Iran, who is building nukes for not only Israel's destruction, but for a New Islamic Order in the Middle East. Bibi is serious about peace, and now he is showing it. It was Kadima which unilaterally disengaged in Gaza, although the only fruits it bore were more rockets and terrorist jihad. But it was a serious gesture. Hamas will now know what they face should they engage in Islamic terror more.

by Lakrosse 2009-12-24 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

you know, lakrosse, the oy to the world klezmer link on this page links directly to Michael Medved. I suggest you have lost your way and meant to post this comment there.

by brooklyngal 2009-12-25 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

Kadima doesn't really have a reason to exist if they're going to join a unity government.  I think Livni knows this, but other members of her party don't really get it.

by Steve M 2009-12-24 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

True.  But she may be out of good options.  Bibi has been trying to poach former likudinks from kadima.  Mofaz is challenging Livni from within.  There are reports in Haaretz that up to 11 Kadima MKs are considering bolting to Likud.

by Strummerson 2009-12-25 03:47AM | 0 recs
oops

As per the article quoted above, 14 Kadima MKs on the cusp of returning to Likud.  The former Labourites, like Dalia Itzik, will be screwed.

by Strummerson 2009-12-25 03:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

Does it really matter? What Kadima's founder, Ariel Sharon, and his replacement, Olmert had in mind for the state of Palestine, disengagement and convergence, would have left Palestine in a state of bantustanization as it now exists. No Jerusalem capital, no Jordan Valley, retention of all of the major settlement blocs and cities. Olmert once indicated that he could get away with abbandoning 20-30 settlements, leaving the other hundred or so and the hundred "illegal" hilltop settlements intact.

So who cares? Likud or Kadima, they are the same in the end. More stall and deception, propaganda, scape goating the Palestinians, and maybe avoidance of peace by attacking Iran. If Obama hasn't gotten it yet, Netanyahu is in charge.

by MainStreet 2009-12-25 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu Calls for a Unity Government

MS,

This thread is also about internal Israeli political turbulence.  I was responding to a comment about that power struggle.

But if you are asking me whether I think there is a difference between Livni and Bibi, my answer is that depends on how close she is to the map that Olmert was pitching, which indeed suggests a Palestinian state on a full 22% of mandatory Palestine.  It bears some resemblance to the Geneva initiative and thus is in the ballpark of the Saudi/Arab League plan.  This is something Bibi won't get anywhere near.  But I don't think Livni is anywhere near the PM's chair in any event, so no, I don't think it makes all that much a=of a difference vis a vis the two state solution.  But weirder things have happened in Israeli politics.  So I think it worth a small amount of attention.

by Strummerson 2009-12-25 11:51AM | 0 recs

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