Powered by WebAds

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Kadima Achora having difficulties forming government

The Kadima Achora party, which garnered the most votes in Tuesday's Knesset election, has already run into troubles forming a government. The Labor party, which finished in second place with twenty Knesset seats, is demanding the Finance Ministry as the price of its entry into the government. Achora rejects giving Labor the Finance Ministry, and instead wants to offer it the Defense Ministry (the three biggest prizes in the government are Finance, Defense and Foreign). This is from a JPost article:

Olmert convened members of his newly formed coalition negotiating team at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry to discuss strategy for the coalition talks that will formally begin following President Moshe Katsav's consultations on Sunday with the leaders of the parties set to enter the Knesset.

It was decided at the meeting to try to form the widest coalition possible and to give potential coalition partners the message that Olmert had several alternatives available. Olmert's aides said the ideal coalition included 88 MKs from Kadima, Labor, Shas, Israel Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and the Gil Pensioners' Party. [The wider the coalition, the more unruly it is and the more likely that it is paralyzed by one party or that individual parties decide to drop out or not to vote as the coalition requires. That's why it's so important that Achora ended up with 28 seats and not with the 42-43 that were projected at one time. CiJ]

"Just as I said before the election, no Zionist parties will be ruled out," Olmert said in the meeting. "Any Zionist party can be part of the coalition."

Kadima's first goal in the talks will be to lower Labor's asking price. Olmert's associates acknowledged that because Kadima won only 28 seats, the party might have to give Labor one or even two of the top four portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Finance and Education. [This is the first time I have seen Education compared with others. CiJ] But they said the Treasury was off limits in coalition talks, especially with regard to Labor chairman Amir Peretz.

"There is a limit to what the economy can tolerate," an Olmert associate said. "Peretz has a history of paralyzing the economy with strikes, so if he were appointed, the stock market would collapse. He can't be finance minister for the same reason that [Israel Beiteinu head] Avigdor Lieberman cannot be defense minister."

Such insults to Peretz offended Labor Party leaders who insisted they would have to be paid a reasonable price to join the coalition, unlike the national-unity government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, where Labor's top portfolio was the Interior Ministry.

"A party that has run on a socioeconomic platform could not possibly accept anything less than the Finance Ministry," a senior Labor official close to Peretz said. "The basis of any talks would be Peretz heading the Finance Ministry." [If Peretz gets the Finance Ministry, say goodbye to the economy. Olmert is right about that. On the other hand, there is little doubt that those who elected Peretz expected him to try to run the economy. CiJ]

Kadima officials also said they would refuse Peretz's main coalition policy demand of raising the minimum wage to $1,000 a month, a measure that they warned would harm the economy. They said it would be easier for Kadima to compromise on portfolios than matters of policy.

"Labor is not needed in the coalition if Israel Beiteinu and the haredi parties join," Education Minister Meir Sheetrit said. "It would not be a problem for Shas and Lieberman to join the coalition because the convergence plan will not be implemented tomorrow. [In other words, they are going to try to take parties into the government and tell them that when Achora does something they don't like, they can leave. Why Israeli parties continue to do this rather than prevent Olmert and some of his predecessors from forming governments and forcing them to give other parties a chance is beyond me. CiJ] We are still going to make a serious effort to negotiate with the Palestinians." [Yes, but he is already in trouble with Israel Beiteinu too - see below. CiJ]


Olmert will begin holding personal meetings with the heads of the parties on Sunday. Peretz is expected to tell Olmert that in addition to the Treasury, a "social bloc" of Labor, Shas and the Gil Pensioners' Party would demand the socioeconomic ministries: Education, Industry, Trade and Labor, Social Affairs and Interior.

Lieberman said he had not contacted Olmert, but that he was open to serious negotiations with Kadima. He said he opposed further unilateral withdrawals and the road map, and that he had seen no formal document outlining Kadima's diplomatic strategy so he could not comment on its compatibility with his own. He said that Olmert would need an additional coalition partner outside the obvious left-wing bloc and that Israel Beiteinu was more compatible with Kadima on economic issues than Shas.

Rafi Eitan, head of the Gil Pensioners' Party, indicated last night that he did not support Olmert's convergence plan for uprooting West Bank settlements and fixing a new border. Appearing on comedian Eli Yatzpan's TV variety show [Yatzpan has now become a serious political show? CiJ] , Eitan was asked his opinion of Olmert's plan.

"When you consolidate," Eitan replied, "you pull yourself in. All my life I've tried to expand, to stretch out, so maybe this doesn't work out."

As this next article indicates, Lieberman has a lot more problems with Olmert than just his opposition to unilateral withdrawals. Lieberman is starting to sound like a right-winger again....

Israel Beinteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that, while he did not rule out joining a Kadima-led coalition, he would not be part of government that did not deal with security adequately. "I still have not seen an answer to Kassam or Katusha rocket attacks," he said.

Lieberman said that unilateral withdrawal from settlements should not be the aim of the next government, but rather, it should focus on the security situation. [Olmert can try to hide behind the fig leaf of negotiations, but he is not likely to negotiate with Hamas, and at least from the sounds of this, Lieberman is unlikely to join a government that waits a year to see if the 'Palestinians' change their leadership - which they won't - and then carries out a unilateral withdrawal expulsion of Jews from their homes. CiJ]

"The Gaza disengagement did not bring an end to terror attacks," claimed Lieberman in an Israel Radio interview. He added that he would consider joining Olmert's coalition if a final border solution was linked to demographics and security, and not "just a senseless withdrawal to the '67 borders." [Oh well, Ehud. So much for that. CiJ]

While other parties talked about coalition strategy on Wednesday, Lieberman had a more wait-and-see attitude.

"I see no reason to hurry. I prefer to wait until next week," he said, still flushed from Israel Beiteinu winning 12 mandates.


Lieberman dismissed the notion of a complete left-wing bloc as being unrealistic, given that Kadima, Labor, the Gil Pensioners' Party and Meretz together only make up 59 of the 61 mandates that Olmert needs to form a government. He would have to chose another partner as well, he said.

Kadima's more conservative economic platform would make it hard to form such a bloc, particularly if Shas, which garnered 13 mandates, was added into the mix, he said.

Lieberman said he believed he could be the right partner, but he ducked questions about the incompatibility of his diplomatic platform and that of Kadima.

During the campaign, Lieberman alternatively touted himself as a right-wing and a center candidate. He often explained that his party was the only one to immediately allow itself to be fired for refusing to support disengagement. At the same time, he said, he was open to coalition talks with Olmert.


On Wednesday, he continued this complex balancing act. He spoke against the road map, which was adopted by the last government. He said that he refused to vote in favor of it when it was first passed, so he didn't know why he should support it now. "It's a road map to nowhere," he said.

Lieberman also spoke against further unilateral withdrawals, a policy that Olmert pledged to enact during the campaign. "What's the logic behind being a partner to another unilateral withdrawal?" he asked. "What would be gained by it?"

Still, he said he would support any moves by Olmert to improve the nation's security and its Jewish nature. He dismissed as irrelevant statements by Olmert during the campaign that any coalition partner would have to agree to his platform of reshaping the country's borders.


Post a Comment

<< Home