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Israel's Coalition Poker

Labor Sources: 'Ehud Barak Toppled Prime Minister Olmert For Tzipi Livni And Now Barak Wants A Labor Imprint On New Coalition'

President Shimon Peres Starts Consultation With Knesset Parties After Ehud Olmert Officially Tendered His Resignation

IsraCast Assessment: Neither Livni Nor Barak Would Gain From Early Election Which Would Likely Be Won By Likud's Bibi Netanyahu

Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has officially resigned and President Shimon Peres has begun consultations with political parties on appointing a candidate to try and form a new government coalition. IsraCast is on the view that potential coalition partners are now playing a game of political poker trying to maximize their roles in a new government.

Sarah Livni

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has officially resigned and President Shimon Peres has begun consultations with political parties on appointing a candidate to try and form a new government coalition. IsraCast is on the view that potential coalition partners are now playing a game of political poker trying to maximize their roles in a new government.

With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation, President Shimon Peres has started the process which will lead either to a new Kadima - lead  coalition headed by Tzipi Livni or to an early election in about five months. Until then, Ehud Olmert could continue as Prime Minister of a care-taker government.

Ehud Barak (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Livni's key coalition partner is Labor, but its leader Ehud Barak, is playing hard to get. Barak has been working behind the scenes on bringing right wing Likud into the centrist coalition or else going to an early election. Livni wants to carry on as the new prime minister of the current coalition. Labor sources say Barak forced Olmert's resignation of which Livni is the main benefactor. The sources say Barak is demanding a 'Labor imprint' on a new coalition. For example, Labor seeks revisions to the state budget and clear-cut understandings on negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria. Moreover, the Labor party leader wants a Livni commitment not to call a snap election before the current term expires in another year and a half.

Politically speaking, Livni and Labor see eye to eye on peace negotiations and it is hard to foresee left wing Labor risking an early election that could bring the Likud to power. Barak may have his doubts ' about Livni's being able to cope with urgent telephone calls at three in the afternoon let alone at 3:AM  in the morning ' and there may be a lot of brinkmanship ahead in the coalition negotiations. However, both Livni and Labor have a lot at stake in working out a compromise. 

David Essing

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