Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

Middle east

Netanyahu forms surprise coalition, cancels elections

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-08

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) called off early elections Tuesday after striking an unexpected deal with the centrist Kadima party to broaden and stabilise his governing coalition.

AP - In a stunning reversal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off early elections Tuesday after reaching an agreement to broaden his coalition by including the main opposition party which would put a more moderate face on his hawkish government.

President Shimon Peres’ office confirmed media reports earlier Tuesday that Netanyahu had reached an agreement to bring the centrist Kadima Party, parliament’s largest, into his governing coalition.

The move could have implications regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and help Netanyahu fend off challenges from over an array of issues from nationalist and religious parties in his current governing coalition.

There has been no direct comment from Netanyahu’s office on the new coalition agreement. The prime minister had set early elections in motion Sunday morning by declaring his government would seek to hold them Sept. 4, more than a year ahead of schedule.

Kadima had resisted joining the government when former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was at the party’s helm, because she did not think Netanyahu was serious about reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians. But Livni, who had been chief peace negotiator under the preceding Kadima-led government, recently lost her bid to remain party leader to Shaul Mofaz, a former miltiary chief and defense minister.

Israeli media reports said that Mofaz would become a deputy prime minister in the new unity government. Mofaz, too, has accused Netanyahu of not seeking a peace deal forcefully enough, and has also been a vocal critic of any unilateral Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. With Kadima in the government, Netanyahu could have broader backing to make concessions to the Palestinians and face added pressure to show restraint on Iran.

Israel, like the West, thinks Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. But Israel repeatedly has hinted it might strike Iran if it concludes U.S.-led diplomacy and sanctions have failed.

Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities but has not made an open threat. He has, however, vocally insisted on Israel’s sovereign right to act if it feels threatened.

Israel considers Iran a threat to its existence because of its nuclear and missile development programs, frequent references to Israel’s destruction by Iranian leaders, and Tehran’s support of violent anti-Israeli groups in Lebanon and Gaza.

Reports of Netanyahu’s agreement to bring Kadima into his government emerged shortly after Israel’s parliament held debates long into the night over whether to break up. The vote to disperse had passed the first of a required three readings by a 119-1 majority in the 120-seat chamber.

The agreement stabilizes a coalition that had frayed over domestic issues such as drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the military and tearing down illegally built structures in West Bank settlements.

Media reports said Kadima agreed to join Netanyahu’s government on condition it supports a proposal about a military deferment for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The issue was one of the main reasons Netanyahu decided to bring forward the election date. The deal stipulates that Mofaz will serve as deputy prime minister and that two other key parties, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas, had agreed to the move, according to reports.

Kadima members will also serve as head of the parliament’s powerful Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, reports said.

Netanyahu’s current governing coalition has been dominated by religious and nationalist partners that failed to seriously engage the Palestinians. The coalition has also been criticized for promoting a series of bills that appeared to stifle dissent by targeting dovish groups critical of government policy.

The agreement leaves Netanyahu well positioned to put together a more moderate coalition than the hawkish lineup he now heads, in partnership with centrist parties more open to making concession to the Palestinians.

Parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a veteran of Israeli politics, said he had never seen such a last-minute political upheaval. “This is good for Israel because it brings stability, he said on Army Radio as he left parliament before sunrise.

Israel’s Labor Party called the move “ridiculous” and said it would remain in the opposition.
 

Date created : 2012-05-08

  • ISRAEL

    Netanyahu calls for early elections in Israel

    Read more

  • Israel - Egypt

    Israel urges Egypt to reconsider cancelled gas deal

    Read more

  • ISRAEL

    Israel blocks pro-Palestinian 'fly-in' stunt at airport

    Read more

COMMENT(S)