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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Kadima and Labor set to form partnership

At a press conference this afternoon, Kadima Achora leader Ehud Olmert and Labor party leader Amir Peretz announced that they plan to form a government. Peretz will recommend to President Moshe Katzav that Olmert be entrusted with the task of forming a governing coalition.

Olmert said that guidelines would be written dictating the coalition's policies, and anyone who agreed to the guidelines would be a welcome member.

In closed-door meetings at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry on Monday, Olmert said he intends to form a wide coalition with Peretz as his defense minister [Peretz's qualifications to be Defense Minister are non-existent. Then again, this is Israel. Technocrats are not allowed in the cabinet. CiJ], Labor MK Yuli Tamir as his education minister [Let's just hope she keeps her hands off the religious schools, because she is about as dangerous as they come in this area. CiJ] and Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman in a senior portfolio.

Olmert rejected advice from his advisers to punish Peretz for his failed maneuver to form a Labor-led government with the Right. Instead, he decided to give Peretz the portfolios he believes that Labor deserves, but not to allow him to prevent him from inviting a rightist like Lieberman to join his cabinet.

In an effort to form that coalition, Olmert's convergence plan will apparently not be mentioned in the coalition guidelines. Instead, the guidelines will follow the outline of Olmert's victory speech last Tuesday in which he reached out to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas but left open the possibility of Israel acting on its own if the PA is not willing to make necessary sacrifices.

Kadima, Meretz and the Gil Pensioners Party have all endorsed Olmert in meetings with Katsav. Shas and United Torah Judaism are expected to do the same on Tuesday. They received approval for this move on Monday from their rabbis, bringing the total number of MKs who support Olmert to 59. In a meeting with MKs Avraham Ravitz and Moshe Gafni, Degel Hatorah mentor Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv praised Olmert for his treatment of the haredim in the decade when he was mayor of Jerusalem.

While Kadima officials appeared willing to give into some of Peretz's socioeconomic demands, the Pensioners issued a laundry list of demands on Tuesday that Olmert might have a tough time accepting.

The list includes retroactively restoring cuts in old-age pensions that Netanyahu made when he was finance minister that took effect at the beginning of the year, doubling funding for the health basket of medicines and passing legislation to prevent any future bills from harming senior citizens.


At 4:55 PM, Blogger Moshe Lyons said...

I am just curious, Is it possible for anyone in the opposition to block the gov't from doing anything? Or does the opposition just scream and yell so their voices can be heard on TV? Can the opposition initiate a vote of no confidence or something?

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

The opposition can initiate votes of no confidence. But they now require 61 votes in favor (and not a majority of those present as used to be the case). If the opposition can muster 61 votes in favor of a named candidate to form a new government, they can form a new government without elections.

But not every vote is a no confidence vote. And sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) MK's vote their conscience and face the consequences for disobeying 'coalition discipline.'

On the whole, I'm sorry to say that you are right. The opposition mostly screams and yells so that their voices can be heard on TV.


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