Breaking: Israel’s Coalition Government Begins to Take Shape, Tzipi Livni's Left-Wing Hatnua Party First To Sign On

 @MayaErgas on February 19 2013 12:19 PM
  • Livni
    Israel's opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni speaks at the annual general meeting of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem. Reuters
  • Netanyahu
    Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured, has signed an agreement with left-wing leader Tzipi Livni, turning up the heat on non-coalition parties. Reuters
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Tzipi Livni, former foreign minister and head of the once-powerful left-wing opposition party Kadima, will join the newly forming coalition government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beiteinu party.

Livni will be the minister of justice and in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians. Her second-in-command in the party, Amir Peretz, will become minister for environmental protection.

According to the coalition agreement, Livni will still have to coordinate any talks with Netanayhu, and any new deals or resolutions will have to be approved by the government and by an open vote in the Knesset.

Livni has adopted a rather pro-peace talk and two-state solution stance on the Palestinian question in the past, a position that may be at odds with the feelings of some of the new, more right-wing members of the Knesset.

But the agreement is a good deal for Livni, whose liberal HaTnua (the Movement) party holds only six seats in the Knesset. When she was head of Kadima with 28 seats, Livni chose to stay in the opposition.

No other parties or appointments have been confirmed yet.

“It’s up in the air with everyone still,” Jonny Daniels, a consultant for Likud-Beiteinu, said. “We have talks going on with every party. But by bringing in Livni, [Netanyahu's] creating the broad coalition that he talked about creating.”

But the agreement with Livni is just the beginning, and now the pressure is turned up on everyone.

“This is only a portion of what Bibi [Netanyahu] needs to make a coalition, and it’s a clear direction,” Daniels said. “It’s surprising that she’s the first party when Bibi has more natural partners. He’s knocking everyone’s prices up.”

Now parties like the right-wing Jewish Home, led by Naftali Bennett, or the more religious parties like Shas, will probably feel the heat, especially while the Knesset’s new golden boy, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, is still in play.

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