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article imageNetanyahu, Mofaz form largest coalition in 28 years

By Layne Weiss     May 9, 2012 in World
Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did the unthinkable Tuesday by creating the broadest and largest coalition in Israel in 28 years, The New York Times reports.
According to the Haartez, Netanyahu formed the coalition with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz. Netanyahu is a member of the Likud party.
Under the agreement, Kadima officially commits to supporting Likud policies, Haaretz reports. Mofaz is expected to be appointed deputy prime minister.
Labor party leader Shelly Yacimovich will take Mofaz's place as the opposition leader
According to The Jerusalem Post, the agreement specifically states that Kadima cannot topple the government until its term officially ends on October 22, 2013.
At a news conference formally announcing the coalition agreement, Netanyahu explained the coalition was an essential component of dealing various socioeconomic, security, and diplomatic issues facing Israel, The Jerusalem Post reports. Mofaz stood by his side during the press conference.
"Israel requires stability," the prime minister said. "When I thought our stability was in jeopardy, I was willing to go to elections, but when I saw I could form a very wide government, I understood that stability could be restored without going to elections, so I formed the widest national unity government."
Netanyahu did not mention the Nuclear Iran issue during his speech, but after, he promised the new government would hold "serious and responsible" deliberations on the issue. Analysts believe that since the Likud and Kadima's views don't differ much on the Iran threat may pose, Netanyahu's hardline approach isn't likely to change, The New York Times reports.
Instead of changes to policy toward Iran, many expect to see more focus placed on domestic issues such as changes to the electoral process, and an end to the exemption of ultra-Orthodox Jews having to serve in the Israeli army. Netanyahu's government has agreed to support Kadima's proposal to ban the Tal Law, which is responsible for the exemption.
A poll shows that 44% of Israelis back the deal, 37% don't support it, and 19% have no opinion, The Jerusalem Post reports.
It is interesting to note that according to The NY Times
, the deal comes barely a week after the death of Netanyahu's father, Benzion. Benzion Netanyahu, who died at age 102 in Jerusalem, was known for his hawkish and stubborn stance on a variety of issues.
The new partnership may have angered Netanyahu's father, but one thing is for sure, it definitely surprises everyone as Mofaz and Netanyahu had been known to have many differences. The Jerusalem Post reports that Mofaz harshly criticized Netanyahu and several occasions, even going so far as to call the prime minister a "liar."
The two have decided to put their differences aside because both believe the deal serves Israel's interests.
Mofaz said that not joining the government now would be "wrong," and that not joining 3 years ago was a "historic mistake."
Sources close to the Prime Minister said that once ministers Matan Vil'nai and Yossi Peled retire from politics, their posts are expected to be offered to Kadima, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Several people close to Netanyahu showed their support for the new agreement, The New York Times reports.
Former adviser to Netanyahu during his term in the 90s, and current president of the Jerusalem Center for public affairs, Dore Gold, said the deal signifies a willingness on both sides to "make compromises to ensure peace."
Not everyone is as happy with the agreement as Mr. Gold, however. On Tuesday evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators protested against the coalition, The New York Times reports. Among the protestors was ousted Kadima leader, Tzipi Livni.
Yair Lapid has called the move "corrupt and ugly," Haaretz
Labor party leader Shelly Yacimovich also criticized the move calling the coalition government an "alliance of cowards."
Nabil Abu Rudenieh, chief spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the new coalition could present "new opportunities," The NY Times reports.
Rudeneih said that if the Israelis are "serious and willing" about making changes, "this is the right moment."
Shaul Mofaz was elected head of Kadima 2 weeks ago, defeating former Kadima chief Tzipi Livni in the primary, Haaretz reports.
Before the primary, in an interview with Haaretz, Mofaz insisted he would never join a government led by Netanyahu.
"Kadima, under my leadership, will remain in the opposition. The current government represents all that is wrong with Israel, I believe. Why should we join it?" Mofaz said in the interview.
More about Binyamin Netanyahu, shaul mofaz, Israel, Centrist, Likud
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