First Published: 2013-02-22

 

Netanyahu struggling to form coalition government

 

Likud-Beitenu alliance is still long way from majority 120-seat Knesset despite bringing HaTnuah party on board.

 

Middle East Online

Still not enough

JERUSALEM - A month after his rightwing Likud-Beitenu alliance narrowly won an election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still striving to build a coalition, as talk emerges about the possibility of going to the polls again.

Although the small, centrist HaTnuah party agreed on Tuesday to come on board, its six parliamentary seats added to Likud-Beitenu's 31 still leave Netanyahu a long way from a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

"Political tangle," was top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily's front-page headline on Friday.

The media say that prospective coalition partners, Yesh Atid, Jewish Home and Kadima -- with a combined total of 33 seats -- were working together to exert the maximum political price for cooperating with Netanyahu.

They said Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-right Jewish Home, was demanding that Netanyahu renege on a pledge to centrist HaTnuah's head Tzipi Livni to put her in charge of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Likud-Beitenu and Jewish Home officials met on Friday, with the latter describing the talks, in which the Livni deal was discussed, as taking place in a good atmosphere, army radio reported.

Discussions are expected to continue in the coming week.

As the horse trading dragged on, a Jewish Home delegate to coalition talks said Netanyahu had been warning that he could call another general election.

"I heard that the prime minister said that if he doesn't manage to form a coalition then perhaps we'll have to go to elections," Moshe Klughaft told public radio.

Israel is on the eve of the Purim Jewish festival, which features carnival costumes, fireworks and toy guns, and Klughaft said: "I suggest in the spirit of Purim that he doesn't make threats with cap pistols, especially in the light of the polls we see in the papers."

Opinion polls in Fridays's press showed that if new elections were held now Likud-Beitenu, which lost 11 seats in the January 22 general election, would be weakened still further.

A survey by Maagar Mohot Polling Institute for Maariv daily showed Likud-Beitenu slipping another three seats to 28, while the centrist Yesh Atid would climb from 19 MPs to 24 and Jewish Home gain one seat to 13.

The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Yediot Aharonot reported on an online survey conducted by Panels Politics Polling Institute, which showed Yesh Atid skyrocketing to 30 seats to become the largest single party in parliament and Likud-Beitenu sliding to 22.

It did not give the number margin of error.

But Netanyahu still has time to make a deal.

President Shimon Peres tasked him with seeking to form a coalition on February 2 and he initially has until March 2 to complete the task. Should he be unable to do so in the time he cam ask for a two-week extension until March 16.

If he still fails, Peres can ask another party leader to make the attempt and the clock starts ticking again.

After the February 2009 election, Netanyahu was 5 days into the 14-day extension period before he said he was ready to present a government and another six days passed before it was confirmed by parliament.

 

CIA chief not optimistic about future for unified Syria

Bloody escalation in Turkey-PKK confrontations

Tunisia parliament to sack Prime Minister Habib Essid

Arab coalition denies blocking Yemen aid

First Syria families trickle out of besieged Aleppo

Turkey jails journalists as Erdogan rebukes Western critics

Aleppo residents wary of 'death corridors'

Maternity hospital bombed in Syria's Idlib

Up to 1 million more Iraqis risk being displaced

Erdogan accuses US general of 'backing putschists'

'Traitor's graveyard' for coup plotters in Turkey

Government team says leaving UN-backed Yemen talks

Turkey says army to keep up fight against ISIS

Palestinian 'long shot' legal fight over 1917 British declaration

EU enlargement chief warns Turkey to respect rule of law

IS executes 24 civilians after seizing Syria village

French PM mulls temporary ban on foreign-funded mosques

Egypt education system under spotlight

Syria rebels prevent civilians from leaving Aleppo

Turkey widens post-coup purge to businessmen

US says will continue to consider Nusra security threat

Egypt former anti-graft head gets jail term for exaggeration

Rebels form 'supreme council' to run war-torn Yemen

France, Britain call for end to Aleppo siege

Al-Qaeda OKs breaking ties with Syria affiliate

Croatia arrests Kurdish man wanted by Turkey

Tunisian army kills two 'terrorists'

Turkey sees over 40% drop in visitors

Assad offers amnesty to Syria rebels if they surrender

Study says lack of exercise cost world $67.5 billion

Second France church attacker formally identified

Egypt Christians hope for end to discrimination with new law

HRW accuses Syria, Russia of using banned cluster munitions

Post-coup Turkey continues military shake-up

Clinton camp accuses Trump of inviting foreign spying

Morocco arrests 52 suspects planning to set up ISIS branch

Coalition opens formal investigation into Syria civilian deaths

Pope to journalists: 'World at war', but not a religious war

Turkey warns post-coup crackdown ‘not completed yet’

Egypt top Muslim cleric denounces murder of French priest

Russia denies meddling in US election campaign

Syria regime kills 16 civilians in Aleppo assault

Killer of France priest was 'Syria obsessed time-bomb'

Netanyahu defends war record after protest by parents of dead soldiers

44 dead in double bomb blast in Syria Kurdish city