Fresh from coalition talks with the centre-left Labour party, Israel’s prospective Prime Minister has tried to ensure international acceptance, by promising a peace accord with the Palestinians.
“I want to commend the Labour Party, Mr. Barak and his colleagues for doing something that’s important for the national good,” Benjamin Netanyahu said. “I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security and for rapid development of the Palestinian economy. I believe that this can be done.” Benjamin Netanyahu assured himself of a 66-seat majority in the Knesset, after the agreement with Labour. But their accord does not mention the Palestinian quest for statehood. And the inclusion of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party in the bloc has increased critics’ concerns. Seven of Labour’s 13 MPs are against the coalition. So Netanyahu’s margin could shrink if they withhold their support in government. There seems little chance Tsipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party will agree at the last minute to join up. “There may be a government today in Israel, a government conceived in sin,” she said, “but there is from today an alternative.” In the meantime, Netanyahu is talking with several right-wing splinter parties about joining. He has until early April to complete the formation of his government.