Israel: Surprise joint Netanyahu - Kadima government

Objectives include ''responsible'' restart of peace process

08 May, 20:14

Israeli Prime Minisrer Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz in Jerusalem on forming a coalition government Israeli Prime Minisrer Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz in Jerusalem on forming a coalition government

(ANSAmed) - JERUSALEM - "It is my hope that the Palestinians decide to pursue the peace process. I hope that now they will reconsider their position and come to the negotiation table in a responsible way," To these words of Israel's Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas' advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina replied by calling for an immediate stop to all settlement building: "I appeal to the Israeli government to make use of this opportunity to hurry and reach a peace accord with the Palestinian people and its leadership: a just and general accord that may guarantee the security of the peoples of the region and dispel the winds of war".

Thus has begun the exchange with the new Netanyahu government, set up by surprise overnight following a deal with the centrist opposition Kadima party. The deal saves the country from an early election, which would otherwise have taken place in September. This is an ''extended government of national unity'' that should carry the country through to the end of its legislation in November 2013.

Among the items in its programme is that of restarting the peace process in a ''responsible'' way. For the leader of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, there is a need to aim for an "historic compromise" with the Palestinians, which will guarantee the "Jewish and democratic" character of Israel. Also planned is a new law on conscripting young people that re-examines the nature of the exception made for ultra-orthodox Jews. But beyond internal matters, analysts are already questioning whether the surprise move by Netanyahu and his former chief in command Mofaz may be linked to an Israeli strike at Iran's developed nuclear capability. The expanded government is based across seven parties, claiming 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset: the Likud of Mr Netanyahu (27); Israel Beitenu (far right, 15); Atzamaut (list of Defence Minister Ehud Barak), 5; Shas (Sephardic Orthodox, 11); Hebrew Hearth (religious nationalist, 3); Torah Front (Ashkenazi Orthodox), 5. Thanks to the deal with Shaul Mofaz , now added to this list are the centrist Kadima party with 28 seats. From today, the parliamentary opposition will be led by the Labour Party of Shelly Yehimovic, which has just eight seats in Parliament. (ANSAmed).

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