Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Olmert Buys Peretz With Defense Portfolio


Coalition wheeling and dealing continues in Israel, reports the Jerusalem Post. The bid by Amir Peretz to form a left-right coalition, leaving out Kadima in the middle, fell flat when he lost support for his idea in his own Labor Party. Ehud Olmert then felt comfortable enough to be generous. Ignoring calls from his Kadima Party advisors to punish Peretz for trying to do an end run around Kadima, Olmert offered Peretz the post of Defense Minister. The fact that Peretz has no significant military experience is secondary to the "Let's Make a Deal" atmosphere prevailing as Olmert progresses toward a wide coalition. He will try to seduce the right-wing secular nationalist party Yisrael Beeiteinu into the government by offering the head of that party, Avigdor Lieberman, an important ministry. He met with representatives of the religious nationalist party, National Union-National Religious Party and spoke soothing words of national unity. The Hareidi (fervently religious Orthodox Jewish) parties are now publicly recalling how nicely Olmert treaded their communities when he was Mayor of Jerusalem, and they will recommend to Israeli President Katsav that he designate Olmert to try to form the next government. There were even rumors that Olmert would offer Benjamin Netanyahu (who at this point badly needs a political life preserver) the post of Foreign Minister if he would bring Likud into the coalition. The rumors were promptly denied by Kadima officials, which means that they probably are true. If this trend continues, Kadima will head a broad coalition that includes nearly everyone and will stand for nothing. The Hedgehog Blog

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