Netanyahu, Livni after swearing in ceremonies
Netanyahu, Livni after swearing in ceremonies Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Aides to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu have turned to the Kadima party again to explore the chances of creating a unity government in the face of demands from nationalist and religious parties.

Kadima leader and outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni slammed the door on the Likud leader two weeks ago after Netanyahu refused to accept her demand for a rotational system for the position of prime minister and a Likud statement backing a “two-state solution” for the creation of a Palestinian Authority country.

Kadima won 28 mandates in the February Knesset elections, one more than the Likud, but Livni was not able to gain support from other parties for a coalition government. Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu has the support of 65 Knesset Members, easily giving him an absolute majority in the 120-member Knesset.

However, the prospective coalition parties have demanded more Cabinet positions than are available. Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu), led by MK Avigdor Lieberman, already has been given the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Justice. The Defense Ministry has been reserved for Likud MK and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon.

Yisrael Beiteinu, with 15 MKs, and Shas, Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the Jewish Home parties are competing for other Cabinet posts, often same ones.

The two national religious parties, Ichud Leumi and Jewish Home, also are demanding that a new coalition government guarantee the preservation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Dina Libster, spokeswoman for Netanyahu, confirmed that both he and Livni are aware of behind the scenes contacts by aides. The contacts may be a ploy to threaten the national and religious parties to tone down their demands.

The Likud leader has only until April 3 to form a government or relinquish the task to another party leader, leaving him in a vulnerable position that allows Livni to insist on her demands for a rotational government. A similar system was used after the 1984 elections, when Likud Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir and current President Shimon Peres each headed the government for two years.