While the nation’s attention on Tuesday has shifted from coalition issues to Gilad Shalit, Premier-designate Binyamin Netanyahu remains focused on his mission, to present his coalition to President Shimon Peres in the coming days and swear in his cabinet next week.
On Monday night, in somewhat of a surprise move, Netanyahu paid a visit to the president, updating him on the status of coalition negotiations and also calling upon Mr. Peres to use his influence to persuade both Kadima and Labor to join the ruling coalition, hoping to establish a broad-based solid entity that will include the “Zionist parties,” which translates to all the parties except the Arabs.
Netanyahu told the president that the economic realities facing Israel today demand the support of the entire Knesset, not a narrow 65-seat coalition comprised of right-wing and Shomer Shabbos parties. He stressed the Iranian and other threats, which should compel Kadima and Labor to heed his call to join the coalition. Many feel that Netanyahu is truly fearful at the prospect of Yisrael Beitenu wielding too much power, not to mention Avigdor Lieberman serving as foreign minister.
Ironically, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak wants to join the coalition but is unable to do so, lacking party support for the move, and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni who can join, does not want to.
At this juncture, it appears that Netanyahu will present his coalition of 65, hoping that down the short term road, Kadima and or Labor will opt in, deciding to abandon the opposition for a seat around the cabinet table. Netanyahu’s negotiators are informing coalition partners that their cabinet posts may change if in the future Kadima and/or Labor join the coalition.
On Friday, the 28-day period allotted Netanyahu to form his coalition will expire. In accordance to the Basic Law, if a coalition is not established, the president may grant a 14-day extension.
In actuality, it is entirely possible that by Thursday night, Netanyahu will have signed all his partners on board, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, Yahadut HaTorah, and Bayit Yehudi. Then, with agreements in hand, he must inform president and the acting Knesset Speaker, MK Michael Eitan. Eitan must then inform the Knesset and set a date and time for the plenum session within seven days.
24 hours prior to the Knesset session, the incoming prime minister must present all the coalition agreements that were signed with the various parties, permitting MKs to examine and familiarize themselves with them.
Should Netanyahu fail in signing on his partners by Friday, then he is compelled to appear before the president on Friday to request the 14-day extension.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)