PM Netanyahu, you have, for the first time in US history, an enemy in the White House. Plan accordingly. Leave Livni out.
JERUSALEM (AP) - Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to his moderate rivals Friday to join him after the hard-liner was formally tapped to put together Israel's next ruling coalition - an alliance that would dilute the power of nationalists bent on derailing Mideast peace talks.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in a seeming about-face, indicated she might be willing to come on board a Netanyahu government.
But Livni, a centrist, would certainly exact a high price: sharing the prime minister's job she so fervently sought with a reluctant Netanyahu. Should he balk, his alternative would be an unstable coalition of right-wingers sure to collide with the Obama administration and its ambitious plans for ending 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu urged Livni of the governing Kadima Party and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party to join his government.
"I call on the members of all the factions ... to set politics aside and put the good of the nation at the center," Netanyahu said during a low-key ceremony at the president's residence in Jerusalem.
Friday's decision by Israel's ceremonial president, Shimon Peres, to tap Netanyahu ended days of speculation and gave Netanyahu six weeks to put together a ruling coalition.
Peres had been meeting with political leaders as he decided which candidate would be given the task of cobbling together a new coalition in the aftermath of Israel's national election last week.
The choice of Netanyahu was cemented on Thursday when Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, endorsed him.
Lieberman's party, which based its campaign on requiring Israel's Arab citizens to swear loyalty to the Jewish state or lose their citizenship, came in third place in the Feb. 10 election, after Kadima and Netanyahu's Likud. That essentially allowed him to determine whether Netanyahu or Livni would be able to muster the backing of a majority in parliament.
Kadima edged out Likud in the election, capturing 28 seats to Likud's 27. But Likud is in a better position to put together a coalition because of gains by Lieberman and other hard-line parties.
Emerging from her meeting with Peres, Livni said she would not join a
hard-line government and was prepared to sit in the opposition "if necessary."
Good. Good-bye. Don't let the door hit you in the ace on the way out.
With Livni out, Netanyahu might have little choice but to forge a coalition with nationalist and religious parties opposed to peacemaking with the Palestinians and Israel's other Arab neighbors.
Peacemaking? Fancy word for Jew killing and Israel's destruction.
Netanyahu has said Israel must topple the Hamas government in Gaza and says Israel halted the Gaza offensive too soon.