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Toward a Better Coalition?

The Israeli coalition is rapidly taking concrete form. Over the past 48 hours, two key disagreements were ironed out: the pick for the next Justice Minister, and the funding of Yeshivas. However, political engineers are scheming in a last ditch attempt to secure a more palatable cabinet than the one Netanyahu is otherwise heading toward. Officials from both Likud and Kadima are working together in the hope of delivering a Unity Government:

Sources close to Livni said that “essentially, nothing has changed.” Reports and rumors about secret talks being held behind the scenes between the two parties were already spread last week. Netanyahu even met with Labor Chairman Ehud Barak in private.

Senior officials involved in the talks said that Netanyahu has yet to present Kadima with a concrete proposal in terms of his government’s basic guidelines. Several Likud officials have been calling on their chairman recently to reconsider the possibility of a rotation in the prime minister’s role in light of the narrow rightist government taking shape.

Some proponents of a Unity Government are motivated by personal reasons; others, by their concern over Tzipi Livni’s ego undermining the future of Kadima. But more than anything else, there seems to be a growing sense of seriousness and urgency among commentators and politicians who are waking up to realize that Israel needs a functioning government. Here’s how Yoel Marcus, Elder Statesman of Haaretz, put it today:

Tzipi Livni, Bibi’s government in this format is not the answer to the grave problems the country faces at this time. And by deciding to stay out, or making Kadima’s participation conditional on rotation, you have assumed a dual risk. Both the danger that Kadima in the opposition will disintegrate, and also that the government will take the country to places we do not want to go.

Can Marcus change Livni’s mind? Not if she has resolved to engage in what Moshe Arens called “the politics of kindergarten.” A couple of days have passed, though. Maybe she has matured since?



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