Auto SalesOther News...
sponsored by...

Netanyahu gets endorsement from right in Israel

Send a link to a friend

[February 19, 2009]  JERUSALEM (AP) -- Far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman endorsed Benjamin Netanyahu for Israeli prime minister on Thursday, all but guaranteeing that Netanyahu will be the country's next leader.

The divisive Lieberman emerged as the kingmaker of Israeli politics after the Feb. 10 election produced a deadlock between its two largest parties, and his backing of Netanyahu could be the basis for a hard-line government.

Such a government could freeze peace talks with the Palestinians, hurt Israel's standing in the world and place it on a possible collision course with President Barack Obama, who has said Mideast peacemaking will be a top priority of his administration.

Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu Party finished third in the election, essentially allowing him to determine whether Netanyahu or his chief rival, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, would be able to form a parliamentary majority.

Lieberman announced his decision in a meeting with President Shimon Peres, who is holding consultations with political parties this week before choosing a candidate to form a government. If Peres names Netanyahu, then Netanyahu will have six weeks to work out a deal with other parties to create a coalition.

Lieberman told Peres that Netanyahu's Likud Party should head the new government, but that he supports a broad coalition that includes Livni's centrist Kadima Party as well.


"We need a wide government with the three big parties, Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu," Lieberman said. "Netanyahu will lead the government but it will be a government of Netanyahu and Livni together."

Lieberman has raised eyebrows around the world with his calls to make Israel's Arab minority swear loyalty to the state or lose their citizenship.

After Lieberman's announcement, Kadima officials said they were likely headed toward the opposition. Kadima leads the lame-duck government, and Livni had campaigned on pledges to continue peace efforts with the Palestinians.

"If Kadima will join a government like this, based on these guidelines, Kadima will be wiped off the political map," Kadima Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit told Israel Radio. "Kadima can be the only alternative to the Likud reign in the future."

Another Kadima Cabinet minister Zeev Boim, said Kadima would not serve as a "fig leaf" for a hardline government.

[to top of second column]

Netanyahu, a critic of the current peace talks with the Palestinians, has said he would turn to his "natural" allies among the religious and nationalist parties in parliament. But he has said he also hopes to bring in more centrist parties to create a wide coalition with broad national consensus.

Kadima edged out Likud in the election, capturing 28 seats compared to 27 for Likud. But in the 120-seat parliament, Likud is in a better position to put together a coalition because of gains by Lieberman and other hard-line parties. It could be several weeks before a coalition is finally formed.

Peres began his political consultations with Likud and Kadima representatives on Wednesday. He was meeting representatives of the 10 other elected parties on Thursday to hear their choice for prime minister.

If neither Netanyahu nor Livni were to garner the support of a majority, Peres was expected to encourage the two to share the premiership.

However, after Lieberman's endorsement of Netanyahu, a "rotation" at prime minister appears unlikely, and Netanyahu is poised to return to Israel's top post a decade after he was ousted from it.

[Associated Press; By ARON HELLER]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor