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.

 

Yemen rebels warn Saleh will bear consequences

Iraqi forces advance against IS in Tal Afar

US, Gulf officials hold talks on Mideast peace

Taliban warns Afghanistan will become 'graveyard' for US

Stranded migrants feel unwelcome in hostile Bulgaria

Former Libyan PM freed after nine-day kidnapping

Palestinians demand two-state pledge from Trump

What is behind the Syrian regime’s push south-west of Raqqa?

Egypt puts hope in leather exports

Saudi Arabia, Iran to exchange diplomatic visits

IAEA chief briefs US's Haley on Iran deal

11 killed in attack on Libya checkpoint

Turkey says German FM copying ‘racists, far right’

French satire magazine publishes provocative Islam cartoon

Air raid on Yemen capital kills dozens of civilians

After Barcelona, ISIS-inspired threats in Europe continue

Netanyahu tells Putin that Iran’s growing Syria role is threat to Israel

Israel to strip accused Muslims of citizenship

Cairo warns against US decision to withhold aid

Iranian opposition leaders ‘protected’ by house arrest

Turkish FM to tell Iraqi Kurds to cancel independence vote

Qatar approves law for protecting domestic workers

Pentagon chief arrives in Turkey for talks on Syria, Kurds

Two arrested in Morocco over suspected links to Barcelona attackers

Iraqi forces retake three districts of IS-held Tal Afar

Lebanon army says in final stage of IS border battle

Spanish town Ripoll reels from discovery of it’s young jihadists

Jordan opens first job centre in Syrian refugee camp

Outrage in Morocco over sexual assault video

Former Libyan premiere Ali Zeidan still held by kidnappers

Syria opposition talks in Riyadh end with no breakthrough

Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish ‘terror corridor’ in Syria

Iraqi troops recapture first two districts from IS bastion

UN says thousands fleeing Tel Afar amid anti-IS offensive

Second round of Kurdish referendum talks could happen next week

Dozens killed in coalition strikes as US-backed forces advance in Raqa

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal

Two North Korean shipments to Syrian chemical weapons program intercepted

German foreign minister says Erdogan backers threatened his wife

Turkey arrests former national goalkeeper for ‘coup links’

Iran in negotiations to unblock Twitter

Yemeni FM says Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen

On the trail of Spain's attackers

Mattis in Baghdad to support Iraqi forces

UN urges Iraq to do more for IS sex abuse victims