Livni en­tices Labour into Kadima coali­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY YAAKOV KATZ JERUSALEM

FOR­EIGN MIN­IS­TER and Kadima party head Tzipi Livni inched closer to be­com­ing prime min­is­ter this week af­ter agree­ing a par­tial deal on bring­ing the Labour party into the coali­tion she is try­ing to form af­ter Ehud Olmert’s res­ig­na­tion last month.

Deputy De­fence Min­is­ter Matan Vil­nai said Labour was con­fi­dent that a new gov­ern­ment would be formed in the com­ing weeks.

Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, Labour party chair­man Ehud Barak will be granted veto power over leg­is­la­tion and the gov­ern­ment’s diplo­matic and so­cial agenda.

Mr Barak will also be called the “se­nior deputy to the prime min­is­ter”, giv­ing him greater sta­tus than all other deputies ap­pointed in the new cab­i­net.

“This coun­try de­serves sta­bil­ity within the gov­ern­ment,” Mr Vil­nai said. “If we go to elec­tions, on­go­ing work in gov­ern­ment min­istries will be sus­pended and we will lose crit­i­cal time and re­sources.”

On Wed­nes­day, Kadima rep­re­sen­ta­tives met United To­rah Ju­daism mem­bers to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity that the Charedi party will join the new gov­ern­ment.

Ms Livni has also of­fered places in the new gov­ern­ment to the Pen­sion­ers party and the left-wing Meretz party. If Ms Livni fails to form a new coali­tion soon, Is­rael will go to gen­eral elec­tions which Likud leader Binyamin Ne­tanyahu is pre­dicted to win.

Mr Vil­nai pre­dicted that once Labour joins the gov­ern­ment, the strictly Or­tho­dox Shas Party, cur­rently a mem­ber of the gov­ern­ment, will also join Ms Livni’s new gov­ern­ment.

Shas is de­mand­ing that Jerusalem be taken off the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with the Pales­tini­ans, and is call­ing for an in­crease in child al­lowances for fam­i­lies with nu­mer­ous chil­dren. Aware of Shas’s im­por­tance, Mr Ne­tanyahu vis­ited the party’s spir­i­tual leader, Rabbi Ova­dia Yosef, and asked that Shas re­frain from join­ing Ms Livni’s new gov­ern­ment.

Mr Ne­tanyahu as­sured the rabbi that if he won a gen­eral elec­tion he would of­fer Shas a se­nior po­si­tion in the gov­ern­ment.

PHOTO: FLASH 90

Barak across the ta­ble from Shaul Mo­faz, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Olmert

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