Secretary-General of the Labor party, MK Eitan Cabel said party representatives recommended to President Moshe Katsav that Chairman Amir Peretz form the new government. Cabel added that there is more than one alternative to forming a coalition and that the labor is looking to form an "emergency social coalition" headed by Peretz.
A senior Labor official told Ynet regarding the possibility of forming a coalition with right-wing parties “the basic principles of such a government will be based on the Road Map for peace initiative, seeing the diplomatic process through without any unilateral steps and placing an emphasis on social issues.”
Kadima’s Haim Ramon attacked his former friends from the Labor party on Sunday and said that "from talks that were held it seems that they have no intention on establishing a social bloc. Their intention is to form a strange alternative to the government,” adding that it seems that Labor will join forces with the radical right to form a government.
Labor representatives meet President Katsav (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Fellow Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On said that "the convergence plan is an integral part of the government's baselines; we want the government to last until November 2010.”
The two spoke after party representatives met with President Moshe Katsav and recommended he task Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with forming the next government.
On Saturday Kadima members accused Labor Chairman Amir Peretz of ‘childish behavior’ after he had refused to meet with Olmert.
"Amir will pay a heavy public price,” said a senior official at Kadima.
"Does he expect Olmert to come to him to the Histadrut (Labor Union) building? He hasn't realized yet that his role as the chairman of the porters' union at the port of Ashdod is over… he is hurting himself…" he said.
"Amir can have the defense ministry. In any event all the defense decisions are made by the cabinet. The chances that he will get the finance ministry are very slim. Unless you want to see the Stock Exchange headed for catastrophe. It would be interesting to see Amir Peretz slashing NIS 2 billion (USD 430 million) from the defense budget, the official added.
Prior to his meeting with Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin Peretz said in response to Kadima’s statements "I'm not going to comment about references to 'porters'. I don't deal with exchanges of accusations. We don't pay successful spinners."
Peretz spoke of the close ties with Meretz, saying “we're sister parties and we will cooperate."
Beilin, for his part, said "we would have preferred that Amir will become the prime minister, but the question is whether it is practical. The question is can we join a government that will set permanent borders. There is a rare opportunity to do so and there are at least 61 MKs who are ready for it."
Peretz was resting during the weekend in his home in Sderot and talked on the phone with his associates. Senior officials at the Labor party said that he does not reject the idea of becoming the defense minister.
Kadima representatives (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Peretz made it clear to his associates that he will meet Olmert only after the president will task Olmert with forming the new government and when the meeting's agenda will be determined.
Monday: Smaller parties meet with the president
The president is scheduled to meet on Monday with the National Union-National Religious Party, then with the Pensioners party, Meretz, and the United Arab List-Taal.
The president's schedule for Tuesday includes meetings with Hadash and Balad.
Shas party just postponed the meeting with the president to a later date, hoping not to reveal their cards, although party officials said it is highly likely that the party will recommend that Olmert will become the next prime minister. Shas also wants to find out who is the choice of Avigdor Lieberman from Israel Our Home.
It is expected that most parties will recommend that Olmert will be tasked by the president to form the new government. That includes the Pensioners party and United Torah Judaism, although the latter already postponed their meeting with the president until they get a clearer picture.
It remains unclear whether Lieberman will recommend Olmert. Lieberman is "convenient" for Olmert when it comes to the passing the state's budget, but not so much when it comes to Lieberman's views on political issues.
The Likud party is expected to recommend no one, after some Likud members thought it would be better to recommend Peretz who prefers an agreement over disengagement.
The Labor and Meretz are expected both to recommend Amir Peretz as the candidate to form a new government. Kadima officials said that if Meretz will recommend Peretz it will decrease the party’s chances of being included in the coalition.
National Union-National Religious Party members are expected to meet on Sunday to decide on its recommendation. Party officials believe that, like the Likud party, they will not recommend anyone from the major parties.
On Wednesday, after the president meets will all the parties, Judge Dorit Beinish, the chairwoman of the Elections Committee, will submit to the president the official election results.
Ilan Marciano also contributed to this report