The leaders of Israel’s Kadima and Labour parties have agreed to try to form a coalition but a lot of work remains to be done. Acting Prime Minister Ehmud Olmert and Amir Peretz made the announcement after talks to overcome initial stumbling blocks. These reportedly included a demand from Peretz that he be appointed finance minister in the new administration.
But talks will continue on this and other cabinet posts. Kadima won the recent election with Labour in second place. But they did not win enough seats between them to form a government on their own. So they will now look to smaller parties to join a coalition. The candidates include the Pensioners Party and two ultra-Orthodox Jewish factions. Those can be counted on to support an Israeli withdrawal from isolated settlements in the West Bank. But each of Kadima’s partners in government will be seeking concessions from the main party in return for their support for the plan. Ariel Sharon, the Kadima founder, originally spearheaded the withdrawal porposal. The Prime Minister, who remains in a coma, was to have had a further operation today but that had to be cancelled because of an infection.