Theelection results clearly point to the fact that the Right, which is by and large opposed to any more diplomatic moves on the part of Israel in the aftermath of the Gaza pullout, suffered a major blow. Israelis, or at least those who did go to the voting stations, have spoken in favor of additional withdrawals.
The next Knesset will apparently be “leftist” in nature. The public has entrusted itself with parties that are supportive of more territorial concessions, forcing Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to form a government that represents this stance and allow him to implement yet another diplomatic plan involving withdrawals from the West Bank. This, of course, is exactly what Olmert wanted; what he needs.
So what are the possibilities? Firstly, Kadima will have to approach Labor, which has now become its senior partner for the next government. Olmert knows he may have to relinquish one of the major ministerial posts (foreign, finance or defense ministry) to Labor Chairman Amir Peretz. Should Peretz opt for the defense minister position, it would make him a clear candidate for prime minister in the next elections, without anyone being able to tell him that he lacks the necessary experience.
The Education Ministry may also be a viable option for Labor, especially in light of the fact that its platform focused on socio-economic and education-related issues. Yuli Tamir is the natural candidate for the post.
Olmert will of course have to add more parties to the mix, with the Pensioners party being a very relevant option due to its surprising seven-mandate showing. Olmert can win the party over by promising party chairman Raffi Eitan to act diligently for Jonathan Pollard’s release.
Steep economic price
But a 55 Knesset-seat coalition is far from being enough, as Olmert will need a much broader one to the run the country and implement his policies. So who will the acting prime minister turn to? Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Our Home, who was the elections big winner when it bypassed the Likud with 12 mandates? Or perhaps he will try to lure Shas and United Torah Judaism to expand his government? Lieberman, for his part, will have to ease his opposition to additional West Bank withdrawals if he is eyeing a cabinet post.
A few days ago Kadima’s no. 2 Shimon Peres told Ynet he believes Shas would be part of the coalition, which would bring the coalition to a total of 68 seats; adding United Torah Judaism would bring the total to 74 seats – a rather stable coalition.
However, the price of adding Shas, the Pensioners party and Labor may be steep, at lease from the economic standpoint.
And finally, Likud. Olmert, like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before him, detests Benjamin Netanyahu. Kadima was formed, among other things, to destroy Bibi politically, and Likud’s poor 11-mandate showing is proof of its success.