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{New Israeli Governing Coalition:] Olmert, Peretz agree on largest government ever
The Jerusalem Post ^ | 22 April 2006 | Gil Hoffman

Posted on 04/22/2006 10:31:27 PM PDT by anotherview

Apr. 22, 2006 11:23 | Updated Apr. 22, 2006 23:32
Olmert, Peretz agree on largest government ever

Olmert and Peretz - partners

Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Labor Chairman Amir Peretz talk in the Knesset during its inaugural session.
Photo: Associated Press

Israel will have its largest government in history with 27 ministers by the end of the week, according to an agreement reached on Thursday night between Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Labor chairman Amir Peretz, sources close to both men said Saturday.

Olmert and Peretz met after 11 p.m. at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor in Jerusalem to discuss the portfolios that each party would receive and to expedite coalition talks that had progressed slowly in recent days. Kadima negotiating team chairman Yoram Turbowitz, Labor team members David Liba'i and Rahel Turjeman and mediator Uri Shani participated in the two-hour meeting.

According to the deal, Labor will be given the Defense Ministry for Peretz, the Education Ministry for Yuli Tamir, the Agriculture Ministry for Shalom Simhon, the National Infrastructure Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and two Ministries-without-Portfolio. Peretz is expected to recommend to the Labor central committee that MKs Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Ophir Paz-Pines, Isaac Herzog and Eitan Cabel be given the portfolios.

Peretz had dinner with Ben-Eliezer on Saturday night and apparently informed him that he wanted him to return to the National Infrastructure Ministry. MK Ephraim Sneh, who is a former general will assist Peretz as deputy defense minister, a title he held under Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak. Herzog, who will apparently be a Minister-without-Portfolio, and MKs Avishay Braverman and Ami Ayalon, who will not be ministers, were disappointed by news of the agreement.

But the big losers of the deal were Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who will have to give up the post he has held for the past four years, and MK Uriel Reichman, to whom former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had promised the Education portfolio. Olmert will meet with both men on Sunday and will offer Reichman the Justice portfolio. Reichman's aides said he would reject the offer and instead return to the presidency of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center that he founded.

Kadima and Labor officials expressed satisfaction following the meeting while Likud MKs accused Olmert of "threatening Israel's security" by giving the Defense Ministry to Peretz, who was only a captain in the IDF. Kadima officials said that the Likud's Moshe Arens, who was not a general, was a good defense minister and that they expected the same of Peretz.

"It was imperative to speed up the formation of the government in light of the recent security developments," a Kadima negotiating team member said. "Olmert met with Peretz because it is in the supreme national interest to preserve stability and national unity in order to better face the great challenges that lie ahead."

Kadima and Labor officials met late Saturday night to finalize details on the coalition guidelines on issues like raising the minimum wage. The Labor faction will convene at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters on Sunday morning to hear details on the guidelines and the deal.

"We received almost everything we wanted and even more than we expected," Cabel said. "When we received the Education Ministry, it made it easier to accept the deal even though we wanted the Finance Ministry."

Kadima will keep the Foreign Affairs, Finance, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Negev and Galilee Development portfolios. Shas will be given Housing and Construction for chairman Eli Yishai, Communications for MK Ariel Atias and a Minister-without-Portfolio in the Finance Ministry for Yitzhak Cohen.

United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz will continue to control the Welfare Ministry and UTJ chairman Ya'acov Litzman the Knesset Finance Committee. Israel Beiteinu will be given the Internal Security Ministry for chairman Avigdor Lieberman, the Immigrant Absorption portfolio for Yuri Shtern and the Science and Technology Ministry. Israel Beiteinu officials said they were upset that the coalition guidelines refer to evacuating settlements in Judea and Samaria. But a Kadima negotiating team member said he expects Israel Beiteinu to give in because Lieberman wants to join the government. Deputy Immigrant Absorption Minister Marina Solodkin of Kadima will apparently not be a minister.

The Gil Pensioners Party will be given the Health Ministry and a new ministry for senior citizens affairs. Party chairman Rafael Eitan will hold the latter post while MKs Ya'acov Ben-Yizri and Moshe Sharoni will compete over the former.

Likud MK Michael Eitan said the 27-member cabinet was a waste of money.

"The only thing that will unite the coalition is the glue of corruption," Eitan said. "A government that cannot set a personal example by advancing its diplomatic goals without bribing the parties in the coalition is shameful and will not win the public's trust."

Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar said that by appointing Peretz defense minister, Olmert sacrificed security for politics. "At such a sensitive time with so many challenges ahead one would have hoped that security would come before narrow political considerations," he said.

Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On said that by accepting Israel Beiteinu in the government, Labor showed it cared more about cabinet seats than its ideology and principles.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Israel; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: amirperetz; avoda; coalition; ehudolmert; gil; israelbeitenu; israeligovernment; kadima; labour; newisraeligovt; olmert; peretz; shas; utj
The parties in the Center-Left-Right-Religious coaltion are as follows:

Kadima (29 seats)
Labour (20 seats)
Shas (12 seats)
Yisrael Beitenu (11 seats)
Gil (7 seats)
United Torah Judaism (6 seats)

TOTAL = 85 seats

No one party is large enough to take the government down by leaving the coalition, not even Labour. This should insure stability.


Likud - 12 seats (Binyamin Netanyahu will be opposition leader)
NU/NRP - 9 seats
Meretz - 5 seats
Arabs - 9 seats

The opposition is divided between the right and far left and should be able to agree on almost nothing, also insuring government policy will sail through the Knesset most all of the time.

1 posted on 04/22/2006 10:31:33 PM PDT by anotherview
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To: SJackson; Salem


2 posted on 04/22/2006 10:33:27 PM PDT by anotherview ("Ignorance is the choice not to know" -Klaus Schulze)
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To: anotherview
Its funny. Labor was set to oppose another national unity government and its joined one in all but name.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

3 posted on 04/22/2006 11:28:23 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
Articles on Israel can also be found by clicking the keyword or topic Israel.


4 posted on 04/23/2006 5:24:11 AM PDT by SJackson (The Pilgrims—Doing the jobs Native Americans wouldn’t do!)
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To: goldstategop

Your analysis is correct. Labour would sell it's own mothers to gain power. Yisrael Beitenu and Shas will provide a good balance to Labour and keep Prime Minister Olmert from having to institute leftist policies to hold his coalition together. I just wish there was some way to keep Moustache out of the Defense Ministry where he can only do harm.

Fortunately no final decision will belong to Peretz. That power rests with the Prime Minister and Kadima + Yisrael Beitenu + Shas + UTJ will always have a majority in the Cabinet and the smaller Security Cabinet.

5 posted on 04/23/2006 12:50:20 PM PDT by anotherview ("Ignorance is the choice not to know" -Klaus Schulze)
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