Peres set to begin premier debilitations
President to receive formal election results Wednesday evening, meet with Likud, Kadima representatives shortly after. Other parties to submit endorsements within 48 hours; decision on new prime minister to be rendered by Friday afternoon at best, next week at the latest
President Shimon Peres is set to begin untangling the political mess created by last week's general elections' results, thus becoming a key figure in deciding Israel's political landscape for the next few years.
Tuesday's election led to an unexpected political limbo, after Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, won 28 Knesset seats, while Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud won 27 seats. Right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu won 15 seats while Labor got 13. Adding the Knesset seats given to the smaller right-wing parties, the Right was given more electoral mandates than the Left overall, making for a vague political situation.
Under the Israeli electoral system, the president has to task one of the party heads with forming the new government, and although he is officially meant to assign the task to the winning candidate, he is also bound to assign it to the one most likely to successfully form a coalition.
Prior to making his decision, the president is required to meet with all party representatives, who will then recommend the candidate they believe has the best chance to form a stable government. Given the elections' tight results, the party head tasked with the mission may not be the de facto winner.
"This is a significant day," says Peres. "I am aware of the awesome responsibility I shoulder."
Peres is supposed to decided between Livni and Netanyahu by Friday. Many anticipate he will call on both to form a unity government, but the president's own statements on the matter have been wary: "I intend to comply with the people's desire and the people do not want me to impose anything.
"They have told me to adhere to the elections' results and with the law, and I can make my decision only after I hear what the parties have to say."
Tzipi Livni has already stated she would be more than willing to be in the opposition, but her No.2 - Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz - told Ynet that at the end of the day, Kadima is more than likely to join the coalition. "I think we will end up with a rotation (government). We need to exercise patience."
Justice Eliezer Rivlin, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, is set to present Peres with the official election results at 6 pm Wednesday. The party representatives will meet with the president next and submit their recommendations.
Thursday will see Peres meet with the representatives of Balad, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Labor, Hadash, United Arab List-Ta'al, the National Union and the United Torah Judaism.
The president will meet with the represenatives of Meretz and Habayit Hayehudi on Friday morning.
Although Peres is expected to have a clear notion of things by Friday at noon, the more complex the situation proves the more likely it is to lengthen. Should the parties' endorsement be conclusive, Peres is likely to announce his decision this weekend; otherwise, the decision will be postponed to next week.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report