Israel will move a step closer to forming a new government today when interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is officially asked to build a coalition. The invitation will be made at a meeting with President Moshe Katsav. It comes after Olmert’s centrist Kadima party won the most seats in last week’s election – but not an absolute majority. Having already revealed that Labour will be a senior coalition partner, Olmert said he would make a great effort to complete the process as quickly as possible.
He spoke amid confirmation that the Palestinian government is in deep water financially. Prime Miniser Ismail Haniyeh admitted the administration was broke at the first full meeting of his Hamas-led cabinet. He urged the international community not to slash aid. The gathering came amid mounting domestic discord. In a move decried by the Islamic militant group as a violation of power-sharing agreements, President Mahmoud Abbas announced he was taking charge of borders under Palestinian control.