Israel appears headed for polls early next year
DUBAI: Israel appeared headed for polls early next year as leader of Kadima Party Tzipi Livni is set to announce her inability to form a stable coalition government.
The attempt to form a coalition has proved futile mainly because the Kadima and the ultra-religious Shas Party failed to arrive at a compromise. The Shas had demanded a pledge from the Kadima that it would exclude discussions on Jerusalem in talks with the Palestinians. It also sought additional social welfare spending by the new government, once it was formed.“I’m not willing to be blackmailed, either diplomatically or in terms of the budget, and therefore, I will go to elections,” the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Ms. Livni as saying. “The other possibility was for me to capitulate to extortion. But a government is supposed to advance processes and represent the good of the country, not just to survive in this or that coalition. I promised to exhaust efforts to form a government, and that’s what I did.”
Ms. Livni was elected leader of Kadima following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision to step down in the face of multiple corruption scandals. She had 90 days to form the coalition after assuming the party leadership.
Ms. Livni said the Shas Party had on Thursday rejected her “very good offer” for joining the coalition.
Analysts point out that after the Shas Party’s exit from contention, opinion within ruling circles favouring fresh elections began to gather momentum. Efforts to form a narrow coalition minus the Shas were apparently abandoned after talks with the smaller United Torah Judaism and the Pensioners Party failed to make headway.
The Labour party headed by Defence Minister Ehud Barak was also disinclined to form a government with a razor thin majority.
Elections are expected in February or March 2009. Till that time, Mr. Olmert’s government would continue to perform a caretaker role.