Tuesday, March 31, 2009






  • AP:Israel's Netanyahu vows to seek peace with Arabs – Benjamin Netanyahu, taking office as Israel's new leader Tuesday, promised to seek "full peace" with the Arab and Muslim world, but refused to utter the words the world was waiting to hear: "Palestinian state." The well-spoken, U.S.-educated hawk took pains to portray himself as a pragmatist, telling a packed parliament that Israel does not want to rule the Palestinians.
  • LATIMES: New Israeli government of Netanyahu wins confirmation in parliament - His nationally televised address generated scant reaction in the chamber until he turned to domestic matters. From then on, heckling interrupted him frequently, starting as he lamented the decline of Israel's educational standards and called for reform. Netanyahu spoke slowly and solemnly, looking tired after weeks of bargaining to assemble a ruling coalition. Besides his Likud Party, he gathered the support of three other right-wing parties, plus Labor. Together they hold 69 of the 120 seats in parliament. As Netanyahu read out the names of his appointees, he was interrupted again,"Seven, eight, nine. . . ," a number of opposition lawmakers chanted as the list grew."Oh, they know how to count," Netanyahu quipped, at first dismissing the protest over the super-sized government and its burden on the Treasury at a time of recession.He grew visibly angry as the heckling continued, turning to parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin and imploring him to "maintain the honor of today's stately event.""For three years I led the opposition and I never recall such contempt," Netanyahu said. Israelis are accustomed to rude political discourse, but such outbursts are rare during inaugurations.
  • NYTIMES:Netanyahu Offers Conciliation, but Not Concessions — Taking over as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu struck a somewhat conciliatory tone toward the Palestinians in an address Tuesday to Parliament, promising negotiations toward a permanent accord.But Mr. Netanyahu, the leader of the hawkish Likud Party, stopped short of endorsing a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a potential point of friction with the United States.President Obama has called the advancement of the two-state solution “critical.” Mr. Netanyahu opposes the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, proposing a more limited form of self-rule instead.
  • WASHINGTONPOST:Israeli Parliament Approves Netanyahu as Prime Minister -- Israel's parliament on Tuesday approved Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, ushering in a government at odds with international expectations that Israel should pursue negotiations that would lead to an independent Palestinian state.Netanyahu's government says it represents an electorate that has soured on peace talks with the Palestinians, grown weary over rocket fire from Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip, and become increasingly worried about Iranian influence and nuclear technology.But he said his efforts as prime minister will not be consumed with negotiating the international borders of an independent Palestinian state, a task implicit in the idea of a two-state solution that forms the basis of U.S. and international policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Economic and security cooperation between the two sides, he said, will be the priorities.

PM Netanyahu: I will do all in my power to lead Israel to a better Future

"This is a special day for the State of Israel and a very emotional day for me and my family," said Netanyahu once officially inducted prime minister. "I mostly feel the weight of the responsibility I now shoulder. My fellow ministers and I will do all we can to lead Israel towards a better future."

Benjamin Netanyahu Swearing in

Obama calls Netanyahu to congratulate

Sent on the Now Network� from my Sprint® BlackBerry

Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will

(theatlantic).In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.

“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a “hinge of history” and added that “Western civilization” will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”

History teaches Jews that threats against their collective existence should be taken seriously, and, if possible, preempted, he suggested. In recent years, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has regularly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” and the supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, this month called Israel a “cancerous tumor.”

But Netanyahu also said that Iran threatens many other countries apart from Israel, and so his mission over the next several months is to convince the world of the broad danger posed by Iran. One of his chief security advisers, Moshe Ya’alon, told me that a nuclear Iran could mean the end of American influence in the Middle East. “This is an existential threat for Israel, but it will be a blow for American interests, especially on the energy front. Who will dominate the oil in the region—Washington or Tehran?”



PM Netanyahu: Nuclear Iran is our biggest security threat

"These are irregular times," Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum in opening marks to his speech, shortly after outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke his parting words.

"Today Israel is faced with two tests - an economic crisis and a security crisis. The source of these crises are neither our past actions nor past mistakes… our [current] actions, however, will determine the results of these crises," Netanyahu insisted.

Netanyahu pointed to the "spread of extreme Islam in our area, and all over the world," warning against the severe danger of nuclear armament of these extreme forces, hinting at the development of Iran's nuclear activities. "The Iranian leader's plan to erase Israel falls on deaf ears around the world," and is almost accepted as "routine," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu: Israel seeks lasting peace with Arabs

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers Tuesday that he would work toward Mideast peace, warned of the threat of Iranian nuclear ambitions and vowed to bring abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit home.

"We will not let anyone question our right to exist," he told lawmakers gathered at the Knesset in Jerusalem for the swearing-in of the new coalition. "Israel can`t afford to treat statements against it light-heartedly."

In his address, Netanyahu called radical Islam and the Iranian regime major threats to regional security, but praised Islamic culture as "great and rich, with many branches in our people's history which has known periods which flourished for Arabs and Jews who lived together and created together."

He said that blocking the Iranian nuclear program was in the interest of both Israel and the Muslim world, adding that he hoped the region could work together "to block terrorism in every direction and fight it until the end."

"Israel has always, and today more than ever, strives to reach full peace with the entire Arab and Muslim world, and today that yearning is supported by a joint interest of Israel and the Arab states against the fanatical obstacle that threatens us all," he said.

Netanyahu did not explicitly endorse an independent Palestinian state while declaring his commitment to peace, but said: "We do not wish to rule another people. We do not want to rule the Palestinians... Under the permanent status agreement, the Palestinians will have all the authority necessary to rule themselves."

He also warned the Palestinian Authority that it must do its part to fight terror if it is serious about peace.

"I say to the Palestinian leadership that if you really want peace we can achieve peace," Netanyahu told a Knesset session interrupted by heckling from Arab and left-wing lawmakers.

He offered negotiations on "three parallel tracks, economic, security and diplomatic" with the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu also pledged to do whatever it takes to free abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in Palestinian captivity since he was abducted in a 2006 cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.

The incoming premier promised that his government would "work to bolster national security and achieve personal security for Israel's citizens... maintain the Jewish character of the state and Jewish tradition, and also respect the religions and traditions of the country's ethnic communities."

Netanyahu thanked outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his "devoted service" to the state, and promised to engage in peace talks with "sincerity and a clear mind."

Following his address, Netanyahu began to name the 30 new ministers and deputy ministers appointed to serve in the new government coalition, set to be voted in at the end of the ceremony.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Likud MK Yuval Steinitz confirmed as finance minister


Will Shalom accept Netanyahu's offer? negotiations untill last minute.

Silvan Shalom was offered the position of minister of regional development, as well as the title of deputy prime minister. The latter post had already been promised to Moshe Ya'alon, but Netanyahu is reportedly willing to appoint two lawmakers to the position.

Shalom rejected the proposal, and sources close to him said, "Netanyahu is not proving himself to be someone seeking to resolve the crisis."

Rumors of Steinitz's appointment raised tension within Shalom's office, though until a formal announcement is made, the latter was expected to persist in efforts to be granted the finance portfolio. Shalom staffers also tried to persuade Netanyahu to give him the position of acting prime minister in the event of the prime minister's absence.

Meridor named secret services minister, Yaalon strategic affairs minister,Begin as Minister without portfolio

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to appoint Dan Meridor to the post of minister in charge of secret services and deputy prime minister.

Meridor will also be a member of the National Security Cabinet and the kitchen cabinet.

Moshe Yaalon to be appointed to the position of minister of strategic affairs. In addition to this, Yaalon will also serve as vice premier.

Benny Begin appointed as minister without portfolio and as a member of the national security cabinet and the kitchen cabinet.

DRAMA: Steinitz to meet with Netanyahu overnight, Shalom's position still unclear untill Meeting

Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz will meet with Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu at Night in order find out what position Netanyahu intends to grant him.

Steinitz, who is considered one of Netanyahu's close associates, is the leading candidate for finance minister. Silvan Shalom is also awaiting Netanyahu's decision as to what role he will take in he next government.

Netanyahu appoints Likud MK Yuval Steinitz as finance minister

UTJ gets rabbi's approval to join Netanyahu's government

During Jerusalem meeting, Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv gives ultra-Orthodox party's Knesset members green light to join Likud-led coalition after committee approves more flexibility on civil marriage.

Nahum Barnea :Give Bibi a chance

(Ynet).Despite its outlandish size, despite the mistakes made en route to establishing it, and despite the suspicion it is being received with in large parts of the world, the Netanyahu government is the only one we have. It is not exactly the government that the voters of Kadima, Likud, Labor or Shas dreamed of, but it is a legitimate government. It must be given a chance.

In the coming days all the politicians, including the ones who secretly pray for the government’s quick downfall, will say they wish it good luck. This is not about giving a chance; it’s about manners. I’m talking about a real effort to separate the important from the less important on the government’s agenda, and for several weeks at least put aside the secondary items and focus on the essence.

From its first day, the Netanyahu government will contend with two major fronts: One is the economic crisis. Those who listened to Netanyahu’s statements on economic issues in recent weeks were very impressed by his command of the terms, his familiarity with what’s going on in other countries, and his confidence in his ability to overcome, by himself, the crisis at record speed. The solutions he is talking about, topped by tax cutbacks, are less convincing. Netanyahu is much less determined than what he is conveying to the public......

The second front to be faced by the government is diplomatic and military. Seemingly, there is government consensus: Netanyahu, Barak, and Lieberman do not believe there is a chance to secure peace agreements. However, the conclusion each one of them drew from this is different. As Barak does not believe anyone, he is willing to talk to anyone. He believes in limited understandings that would allow for security calm between violent rounds.

Meanwhile, Lieberman’s rhetoric aims for elimination. If Iran is building a nuclear bomb, the solution is to bomb Tehran. If Egypt insults us, the solution is to bomb the Aswan dam. If Hamas fires missiles, we need to topple Hamas’ regime in Gaza. If Barak believes in limited understandings, Lieberman believes in removing threats.

Netanyahu is focused on the Iranian threat, which he views as the essence of everything. Based on his worldview, Israel will not be able to coexist alongside a nuclear Iran. If the international pressure on Iran fails, the US needs to be convinced to act military, or alternately, Israel needs to prepare for independent military action.

A policy of understandings in line with Barak’s views has no chance in the Netanyahu government. Initiating wars in line with Lieberman’s approach also has very little chance: It is doubtful whether Foreign Minister Lieberman, even him, will adopt the belligerent rhetoric of Lieberman from Yisrael Beiteinu. The compromise will be neither elimination not understandings, but rather, maintaining the status quo.

Except for the Iranian issue; this issue cannot be put on hold. Netanyahu will look up to Obama’s America: Perhaps salvation shall come from there. There are two questions here: Whether Obama will be able to subject his agenda to Israel’s, and whether Netanyahu will be willing to accommodate the American president on a series of issues, topped by the negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu will be able to draw out the negotiations; it is uncertain whether he will be able to fool his rightist partners.

Netanyahu was given a rare gift in politics: A second chance as prime minister. Barak too was given a gift: A second chance as defense minister. Lieberman, meanwhile, has been given a priceless opportunity to leave the empty slogans that brought him here behind him. The Netanyahu government’s kitchen-cabinet will be the second chance club.

Netanyahu probably assumes that there will be no third chance. He will do everything he can in order not to fail. He deserves a chance: Perhaps this time it will work out for him.

Netanyahu names Likud ministers - Update 2

Gideon Saar - Education minister
Yisrael Katz - Transportation minister
Limor Livnat - Science, culture and Sport minister

Peres: Next gov't under Netanyahu will be committed to seeking peace

During a press conference in Prague on Monday, President Shimon Peres expressed optimism that Israel's next government can achieve Mideast peace, despite the presence of parties within the incoming coalition traditionally opposed to making concessions to the Palestinians.

His comments appeared aimed a soothing both US and EU concern that the new government under Benjamin Netanyahu may abandon the concept of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel as the primary goal of a Western-backed "road map" to peace in the Middle East.

Peres seized on that promise by expressing optimism that the new government will be fully committed to seeking a Middle East settlement.

"They say 'we shall continue the negotiations with the Palestinians,'" he told reporters. "They say 'we shall negotiate with each one of our neighbors,' they say 'yes, we would like to develop the regional economic opportunities, and they say also we are going to see what can be done in terms of peace on regional level.'

"And then they are saying also they are going to respect the previous government commitments. So I would think this is a very reasonable and promising beginning."

Comments: 4 Last update - 17:11 30/03/2009 Netanyahu vows 'every effort to reach durable peace'

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu says his government will make every effort to reach "a durable peace with all of Israel's Arab neighbors."

Netanyahu made the statement in an address to the Knesset in Jerusalem during a special session marking 30 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

"Whenever Israel stands before peace-seeking Arab leader, it follows and answers the call,".

"A bereaved people understands the importance of peace," Netanyahu said, adding that all Israeli governments, no matter the political orientation, "reaches out its hand in peace."

"Israelis know how to spot genuine peace whenever it is offered,but the real test of peace is in its stability and its durability."

Livni in a weird declaration: Tomorrow we will see the rise of a large opposition

(Haaretz).Kadima chairman and outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that Kadima will serve the nation from the opposition. "This is the service we have decided to give. The government that will be formed tomorrow will be large and bloated, with portfolios and ministries divided into fractions and sub-fractions. Tomorrow will also see the rise of a large opposition headed by the largest party," said Livni during a Kadima meeting held in the Knesset.

"We are in the opposition out of our own choice. We could have been part of the phenomenon that we have witnessed, but we chose to follow our own path. We will serve as a responsible opposition where there are significant issues regarding security and economics, but we will not hesitate to criticize the government whenever it does not represent the good of the nation," Livni told Kadima members.

Netanyahu to Olmert: No one can question your courage

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech at a special Knesset meeting commemorating 30 years for the signing of a peace agreement with Egypt, saying, "Courage is the most important quality for leadership."

Addressing outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu said, "No one can question your true and sincere desire to achieve complete peace in the State of Israel, or your courage in making decisions that were necessary to ensure our security."

Olmert: Netanyahu has privilege of leading Israel during fateful time


Knesset Channel

Bipartisan-90 MK's vote: Rivlin elected as Knesset speaker

Netanyahu names Likud ministers (1)

Speculations over: Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday informed his party's Knesset members of their designated positions in his new government.

The first to meet with Netanyahu was MK Michael Eitan, who will serve as a minister-without-portfolio in charge of improving the governmental service to the citizens.

MK Moshe Kahlon will be appointed communications minister, MK Yossi Peled will be a minister-without-portfolio, and MK Gila Gamliel will serve as deputy minister for women and youth affairs. MK Yuli Edelstein will receive an operational role, Netanyahu said, although his areas of responsibility have yet to be determined.

MK Gilad Erdan, who was next in line, was informed of his appointment environment minister. Erdan said in response, "I'm very excited. We'll lead a green revolution." He will also be a member of the Judges' Election Committee.

PICKY SHALOM:Shalom to declare war on Netanyahu

(JPOST).Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud rival, MK Silvan Shalom, intends to reject an offer from Netanyahu on Monday to receive the honorary title of vice premier and responsibility for regional cooperation, sources close to Shalom said Sunday night.

Netanyahu hoped the two roles, which were both held by President Shimon Peres in the past, would satisfy Shalom. But Shalom's associates said he would settle for nothing less than the Finance portfolio and the title of vice prime minister, which involves filling in as acting prime minister when the prime minister is abroad or incapacitated and allowed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to succeed Ariel Sharon.

Supporters of Shalom in the Likud central committee threatened that if Netanyahu did not improve his offer to Shalom, they would "declare war" against him and use the party's institutions to try to bring him down. They said Shalom would also "join the opposition" to Netanyahu in the Knesset.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Netanyahu to split ministries for senior Likudniks ,Growing rumors -Shalom to reject Netanyahu's offer

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met late last night with a handful of close associates to discuss ministerial postings, a move he hopes will ward off bitterness among senior Likud figures. Many of them are waiting for Netanyahu to fulfill promises he supposedly made during the election campaign.

Netanyahu is expected to keep the Finance Ministry for himself and appoint Yuval Steinitz a minister below him.

Netanyahu has no intention of appointing someone who would become acting prime minister in case of emergency. That post, and finance minister, are precisely the positions Silvan Shalom had sought; Shalom has communicated to Netanyahu over the past few days that he would prefer no ministerial post at all if Netanyahu does not keep his promise to appoint Shalom to a senior position.

It is believed Netanyahu intends to appoint Shalom as his vice premier and minister for regional development, or minister for economic peace and deputy prime minister, hoping this satisfies Shalom.

To the 5 portfolios: finance, transportation, communications, environmental protection, and culture and sports,Netanyahu is expected to add a vice premier and minister for strategic affairs, and to split the Communications Ministry to create a Regional Development Ministry and a Ministry for Economic Peace.

Around 15 senior Likud figures will be invited to meet with Netanyahu. He will tell 11 or 12 which portfolios they have received, and will offer deputy minister posts to two.

Likud's leaders may receive portfolios as follows: Gideon Sa'ar - education (the post has been reserved for him); Yisrael Katz - transportation; Gilad Erdan - environmental protection; Moshe Ya'alon - strategic affairs; Moshe Kahlon - part of communications; Yuli Edelstein - part of communications; Limor Livnat - culture and sport; Dan Meridor - minister without portfolio with responsibility for security issues and member of the security cabinet; Benny Begin - minister without portfolio and member of the security cabinet.

A Relief for The Nation: Kadima gov't coming to an end,Livni says:It's hard to say goodbye

With just two days left in office, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni gathered close to 30 party officials at her private residence in Tel Aviv for a determined pep-talk.

"It was important for me to bring you all together ahead of this coming week, which won't be easy for any of us. I know that it isn't easy to leave a state ministry," she told the assembled crowd, adding that Kadima's decision for walking away from the new government was the right one. "It a testament to what Kadima is," she said.

Livni ended by promising those assembled that she would lead "a strong fighting opposition, an opposition that has something to say and something to offer. Kadima will be the movement that acts not only in the Knesset – it will be a social movement that stands as an alternative and that will show people what can and should be here."

Barak distributes portfolios in Labor Party

Labor Chairman Ehud Barak has announced the ministerial positions to be manned by his party members in the Likud-led government.

Barak has determined that Binyamin Ben-Eliezer will serve as industry, trade, and labor minister, Shalom Simhon will serve as agriculture minister, Isaac Herzog will serve as welfare minister, Avishai Braverman will serve as minority affairs minister, and Matan Vilnai will continue to serve as deputy defense minister.

Olmert:Netanyahu will lead his government to achievements

In his last weekly cabinet meeting this term, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed the issues facing the incoming government of Benjamin Netanyahu, voicing hope that the new government will continue the path set out by his own administration.

"I hope that the new government will continue to advance the same important issues that this government dealt with, while believing and maintaining continuity of government," Olmert said at the start of the meeting.

Olmert will vacate his seat later this week as Netanyahu's government is sworn in on Tuesday.

The outgoing prime minister expressed certainty that Netanyahu's government will "do everything in its power to realize the life-long dream of the state of Israel ? happiness, joy and security for the citizens of Israel."

Olmert wished Netanyahu luck, saying "I have no doubt that he will lead the government to achievements."

"I can say one thing to Benjamin Netanyahu – when I was elected and sworn into Knesset he told me this was a difficult job.

"I know that now. To his fortune, he knows this from his first time in this position. I hope he leads the government to achievements and the State to the fulfillment of all of our dreams.

"He has the advantage that he's already been prime minister," the prime minister went on, "I wish him luck, and I have no doubt that he will lead the government to achievements."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Peres to tell EU: Netanyahu will advance peace

(Haaretz),President Shimon Peres launched a campaign a few days ago whose aim is to convince the international community that the "Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak" government in the making will advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, senior European Union officials have sent messages to Benjamin Netanyahu making it clear that a refusal to adopt the "two-state solution" means freezing any upgrade in relations between Israel and Europe.

Peres seeks to allay European and Arab suspicions about the Netanyahu government and the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister.

The president has been helping Netanyahu in his coalition negotiations with Kadima and the Labor Party, and was party to the secret talks between the Likud chairman and his Labor counterpart, Ehud Barak.

In a phone call late last week to mark the 30th anniversary of Israeli-Egyptian peace, Peres told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that the agreements signed by Israel contain an obligation to promote a regional peace agreement as well as separate agreements with each of Israel's neighbors. "In addition," Peres said, "the new government will be obligated to honor all of the international agreements that have been signed." Sources close to Peres said yesterday that the president has transmitted similar messages in his talks with foreign leaders, which are expected to continue through Wednesday, when the new government is to be sworn in.

Peres is to make an official visit to Prague on Monday, where he is scheduled to meet with the president, prime minister and foreign minister of the Czech Republic. The Czechs are the current president of the European Union, and according to sources in the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Peres intends to take advantage of his visit to present the coalition agreements to his hosts and to stress the new government's commitment to the peace process.

"It will be one of the main topics of the visit," the source said. In addition, immediately after the swearing-in ceremony for Netanyahu on Wednesday, Peres will launch a media blitz of interviews to the foreign press to explain the policies of the new government.

Netanyahu to appoint the Likud ministers on Monday,keeps Finance ministry for himself

(Haaretz).The prime minister-designate spent the weekend at home in Caesarea in an effort to resolve the shortage of portfolios for Likud. The main focus was MK Silvan Shalom.

In recent days Shalom has sent messages to Netanyahu in which he warned that unless he is appointed finance minister and vice premier, he will not be part of the government.

For his part, Netanyahu insists that he will not surrender to pressure. According to sources close to the prime minister-designate, he will not appoint a vice premier and will keep control of the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu has said he plans to serve as finance minister with the assistance of another appointee, who will hold the status of a minister but not be in control.

Shalom has so far avoided any public statements, even though his supporters in the party are outraged. Shalom has ordered them to avoid any public protest.

"Bibi really wants to find an appropriate position for Silvan if that is possible, and had no intention to humiliate him," a source close to Netanyahu said, using his nickname. "What Silvan does will be up to him. He will harm himself if he stays outside [the cabinet]. Now that Labor is in the coalition there is no fear that if Silvan votes against the coalition there will be no government."

When asked what is an appropriate position, Netanyahu's supporters said that "he is putting together something for him."

Ya'alon may be offered a revived Strategic Affairs Ministry. Meridor or Shalom may be offered Vice premier postings with added substance.

Meridor had been mentioned as a candidate for the Finance Ministry if Netanyahu decided not to keep it for himself.

MKs Shalom, Ya'alon, Meridor, Benny Begin, Gilad Erdan, Moshe Kahalon, Yisrael Katz, Limor Livnat and Yuli Edelstein know they will be appointed to ministries, but are worried they might receive minor positions.

The Ministry Education has been promised by Netanyahu to MK Gideon Sa'ar.

Netanyahu government to be sworn in on March 31

(Indiatimes).An Israeli government headed by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party will be sworn in on March 31, a
spokeswoman for the Israeli politician said on Saturday.

Asked about Israeli media reports that Netanyahu would present his government on Tuesday, spokeswoman Dina Libster said: "Yes, apparently so."

Friday, March 27, 2009


(Yossi Verter-Haaretz).Fewer than 90 votes separated the second government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which will be presented in the Knesset next week, from the political chaos that would have erupted Tuesday night if the Labor Party convention had rebuffed Ehud Barak. If those 90 people had not supported Barak, Netanyahu would have had to crawl back to Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and agree to all her demands. That would have left him without a party, and Livni would have gotten the nod to form a government, though it's very doubtful she would have succeeded. We might have faced new elections in the summer. Or Netanyahu might have cobbled together a narrow black-and-orange government - i.e., of religious and pro-settler parties.

After calling to express his appreciation to Barak, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini, the prime minister-designate reminded his people of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit's slogan: "Those who dare - win." True, Netanyahu said, sometimes those who dare lose. But when I embarked on this adventure with Barak, I knew he would do everything humanly possible to win. Because he simply had no choice. What could he expect in the opposition?

The two men have known each other for 40 years, but this will be their first encounter in the high-pressure situation existing between an Israeli prime minister and defense minister. Hours after the Labor convention, in a small room in Kfar Hamaccabiah, Netanyahu and Barak drafted in a few hours a coalition agreement that in the past would have taken weeks to complete. Livni expressed frustration at the outcome of the Labor vote, which shrank the opposition and lengthened the new government's life, when she told the photographers waiting for her outside her home the next morning: "This is a government that was born in sin."

She was a member of the two governments of Ariel Sharon, who handed out ministerial posts and invented ministries and positions (such as deputy prime minister, which Livni herself benefited from). Anything Netanyahu did in the coalition talks, Sharon did before him. Netanyahu's only sin was that he succeeded where Livni had failed: Last October, he torpedoed the government she tried to form. She wasn't able to pay him back in kind - not that she didn't try.

In the past week, Livni met privately with almost every Kadima MK. "There are things about the negotiations between me and Bibi [Netanyahu] that have not been made public," she told them. "For example, that he kept telling me the whole time that there is no partner, no one to talk to, not among the Palestinians and not among the Syrians. And that he is against withdrawals because every withdrawal will lead to the creation of 'Iranian bases.' And that he is against Annapolis, which the whole world supported. And that he is against true, broad unity with Labor.

"He wanted only us so there would be a permanent majority of the right against us. And he is not ready to talk about a change in the system of government because he has commitments to the ultra-Orthodox parties. In the last meeting, when I asked him for answers on a few issues, he didn't bother to get back to me. That's why he went to Barak, because he knew it would be a lot easier."

Netanyahu told a handful of confidants this week that Livni was informed that he was talking to Barak while he was talking to her. She thought this was a trick to make her lower her price. Even last week, when the Barak-Netanyahu talks became public knowledge, Livni received a message from the Likud leader that he was ready to continue the contacts with her and Barak in parallel. She was convinced there was no chance Barak would get his party to agree. She continued to insist on a rotation government. (Her last offer conveyed to Netanyahu was 60:40 - he would be prime minister for 60 percent of the government's tenure, and she would be for 40 percent. He didn't call back.) Who is giving Livni political advice, Netanyahu wondered to his aides this week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Netanyahu: In order to lead we need to pay a price for stable gov't

(Globes).After receiving the report by his 100-days staff, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said today, "I have no doubt that we'll lead a responsible economic policy. There is an economic price for a stable and large government, but the price of not establishing a strong and stable government is so great and catastrophic, in both financial terms and in jobs, that the cost of establishing a coalition is negligible."
Netanyahu added, "I'm sure that we'll establish a government next week, and we'll get to work quickly. We didn’t just come to sit around, but we'll work for the good of the country.

"We're in the midst of very severe economic crisis. It will take time to turn things around, but we must immediately reverse the trend in order to limit, to the best of our ability, the loss of jobs and to ensure the country's economic future. National soundness depends on economic soundness."

Netanyahu continued, "As for the US, our relations are strong and tight. The real pressure that we face is the pressure of violent extremism that seeks to obtain weapons of mass destruction that threaten Israel and the US. We must act together, and there's no doubt that we'll rebuff the dangers."

Olmert: Best of luck to Netanyahu as PM

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a conference on political marketing at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya that he "wishes to praise Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu, and to wish him success in his roll from the depth of my heart."

Olmert said, "It is a difficult job, and Netanyahu knows it. We are living in a period full of very significant challenges, and the government will have to respond to these challenges."

Netanyahu succeeded to lead this week one of the political brilliant courses


100 Days Defence & Security Present for Netanyahu their report

Netanyahu not afraid of bloated government

(Jpost).Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu intends to present a government of 28 ministers, including himself, and seven deputy ministers to the Knesset next Tuesday after completing the formation of his coalition by the end of the week, according to sources close to Netanyahu.

When Netanyahu first became prime minister in 1996, he formed a cabinet of only 18 ministers in an effort to save taxpayer money and prove that a smaller government could be run more efficiently. A law was even passed limiting the number of ministers to 18, but it was later repealed.

But Netanyahu's associates said Wednesday he later regretted his stinginess, because he made too many enemies among MKs left without a portfolio.

They said he learned from former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who formed the largest government in Israel's history, that governmental stability required keeping as many politicians as possible content.

"The credit he received from the public for building a small government only lasted a few days, while his problems with disgruntled politicians lasted much longer," a source close to Netanyahu said.

"The outcry against Sharon lasted only a few days, and he was prime minister for longer."

Coalition agreements signed by Wednesday gave five portfolios each to Labor and Israel Beiteinu, four to Shas and one to Habayit Hayehudi.

Likud officials expressed confidence that a deal would be finalized with United Torah Judaism Thursday night giving the faction the Health portfolio, which will be held by a deputy minister.

The remaining 13 ministers will come from the Likud. The number of Likud ministers could go down by one if Yaakov Neeman declines to accept the Justice portfolio and allows Netanyahu to give it to MK Gideon Sa'ar, but a member of the Likud's negotiating team said emphatically that Neeman would be the justice minister.

Netanyahu is under pressure to give up his hope of maintaining the Finance portfolio for himself. If he gives it up, the most likely candidates are MKs Dan Meridor, Yisrael Katz and Yuval Steinitz. MK Silvan Shalom, Netanyahu's rival, is not expected to be given the job, because Netanyahu would want someone he could trust and work closely with in the Treasury.

Sources close to Netanyahu confirmed a Channel 1 report that Netanyahu was seriously considering giving the title of vice prime minister to MK Moshe Ya'alon, despite a promise to Shalom to give him the Likud's highest position.

Sa'ar is expected to become education minister, MK Gilad Erdan is likely to be given the Environment portfolio, Katz Transportation, MK Limor Livnat Communications, and MK Moshe Kahlon Negev and Galilee.

Another minister will be given the Culture and Sports portfolio, which will be removed from the Science Ministry given to Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Herschkowitz.

Some top Likud MKs could become ministers-without-portfolio, or head ministries that do not currently exist. For instance, Meridor could be strategic affairs minister and Steinitz minister of economic peace.

MK Yuli Edelstein is expected to become Diaspora affairs minister and will likely also be the ministerial liaison to the Knesset. MK Bennie Begin's role is still unclear but he could receive the Pensioners Affairs Ministry, which is also in charge of matters related to Jerusalem.

Sources close to Netanyahu denied reports he intended to appoint ministers to half terms and have them rotate, as he did with Silvan Shalom and Michael Eitan in the Science Ministry in his first government.

Unity is good for Right

Rightists should be happy that Labor joined government instead of National Union

Shlomo Engel-Ynet).The unity government being formulated is stirring significant grievances among the large camp that voted Right but got Right intermixed with some Left. However, with his latest moves Benjamin Netanyahu in fact follows in the footsteps of almost all rightist prime ministers. They always preferred a broad and stable center-Right government over a narrow and blatantly rightist government.

As a rule of thumb, a unity government is a better alternative: It constitutes a moderating element and its survival prospects are better. It expresses national responsibility, which sadly can be found only in the rightist camp. When the leftist camp won in 1992, Rabin did not imagine bringing Likud into the government. Olmert conducted himself similarly following the previous elections.

Blatantly rightist parties have accumulated vast experience in toppling rightist governments, and Netanyahu should not be thinking that the Right would treat him any differently. The first Netanyahu government collapsed against the backdrop of the Wye Accord with the Palestinians. The government was toppled by Land of Israel loyalists in the Knesset even before it turned out that Netanyahu actually does not intend to honor the agreement, based on his famous demand for reciprocity on Arafat’s part.

It is naïve and even foolish to think that a long-time policy can be changed by the hand gesture of one government. Regrettably, the damages of Oslo and the disengagement can only be corrected via a lengthy and ongoing effort by a responsible rightist government. The State of Israel is bound by quite a few agreements, obligations, and international expectations that stem from the peace delusions and folly of previous government – however, there is no choice but to honor them as long as they do not constitute an existential threat. For this reason, Netanyahu had to honor infamous Hebron deal in 1996, and he will have to swallow quite a few bitter pills in 2009 as well.

It is very important that Netanyahu and his rightist government adhere to the Right’s diplomatic horizon in an ongoing and principled manner. The essence of this horizon is the rejection of the two-state solution and the adoption of aggressive policy vis-à-vis the various types of Arab-Muslim enemies. Maintaining this approach, while realizing that many twists are expected in the long road ahead, are the only recipe that will see the State of Israel make it to safety.

Netanyahu says expects no U.S. pressure over peace process

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he did not expect to come under pressure from the United States over the Middle East peace strategy of his right-leaning government.

"I think you are talking about something that I doubt existed for any length of time in the past and which I am convinced does not exist today,".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Israel's UN ambassador: Netanyahu committed to peace

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday declared in an address before the Security Council that "the state of Israel is committed to the Middle East peace process."

Professor Gabriela Shalev spoke at a meeting on the Middle East and Palestinian issues, addressing the imminent change in leadership in Israel, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert completes his term and yields his seat to incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When the administration changes, she assured the council, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians will continue to move forward.

Likud Ministers Await Cabinet Assignments

The ministries that remain available for the Likud include some important ones, such as Finance, Education, Transportation, and Communications, together with some less important ones, such as Negev and Galilee Development, Pensioners, Environment, Health, Diaspora Affairs, Strategic Affairs, Peace Process Economics, and others.

Leading candidates in the Likud to become ministers are MKs Gideon Saar, Silvan Shalom, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kachlon, Gilad Erdan, Yuval Shteinitz and Yuli Edelstein. In addition, newcomers Benny Begin, Moshe Yaalon and Dan Meridor are expected to clamor for posts as well.

Yaalon has already released Netanyahu from his promise to name him Defense Minister.

The Knesset Speaker, Reuven ("Ruby") Rivlin, will come from the Likud, as will the upcoming Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister.

Netanyahu faced a similar situation in 1996, when the then-popular Ariel Sharon found himself without a ministerial portfolio in the new government. Netanyahu then fashioned a new ministry out of various departments from other ministries, called it National Infrastructures, and assigned it to Sharon. This time, as well, it is likely that new ministries will have to be formed in a creative manner.

At present, it appears that Netanyahu will retain the Finance Ministry for himself, Saar will become Education Minister, and Livnat will return to the Communications Ministry.

Likud Knesset Meeting

Grand rabbi of Belz urges UTJ to reach a Solution that will able them to enter Coalition

Belzer Rabbi urges top Degel hatorah Leader harav Eliyashiv to accept and approve the Compromise that he and the Chief rabbi Harav Amar Formulated together that every city Rav that will want to perform conversions, will be obligated to receive a permit from the special committee headed by Hgr"sh Amar, in order to enter the Coalition in these Difficult times fro the Torah World.

source: bhol.co.il

The big winner: Netanyahu - Netanyahu managed to form sane unity government that will save Israel

(Hanoch daum-Ynet).There is one big winner following Tuesday night’s events at the Labor Party, and it isn’t Ehud Barak, who managed to overcome the many media outlets that slammed him. I am talking about Benjamin Netanyahu.

There are those who won’t like to hear it, yet before our eyes we see a new Bibi emerging in the wake of the elections
. When Tzipi Livni announced in a hoarse voice, as Dalia Itzik cheered on, that she won the elections, he quietly finalized a deal with Lieberman. When everyone explained to him that he must agree to a rotation with Livni, he closed a deal with Shas at a cheaper price than the deal offered to them earlier by Livni.

And when the media condemned him for establishing a narrow government and making a historic mistake by remaining loyal to his natural partners, he closed an important deal with the Labor Party’s Ofer Eini, thereby guaranteeing his government’s legitimacy in Israel and abroad.

We must understand the following: The decision taken Tuesday night by the Labor Party committee is the decision the nation was expecting. The overwhelming majority was hoping for a unity government.

Netanyahu could have established a narrow government within a week. The old Netanyahu may have done it: He would not compromise, not give in, and rush to the president with a limping government; the most important thing would be that he became prime minister.

Yet the new Netanyahu is different. Quietly, out of a sense of responsibility, without talking much, he managed to produce a sane unity government that comprises religious and secular parties, leftists and rightists, who together can save Israel’s economy and maintain Israel’s status in the world.

Barak did the right thing Tuesday night and his party members displayed maturity, yet the real hero is Netanyahu, who I assume watched the results of the Labor vote with great pleasure.

Based on what we learned about Netanyahu’s relationship with the media, we shall see days where Bibi will be harshly criticized for his actions. Yet today we are allowed to admit the following: He started his term his office on the right foot, and more importantly, he proved that he learned quite a bit from past mistakes

Netanyahu to Likud Member:Unity came with a price

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Labor Party's decision to sanction Chairman Ehud Barak's coalition bid, calling it "an important national step."

"(Labor) has made a significant contribution to the establishment of a solid government, which will express the broad unity evident in the public," the prime minister-designate told his faction Wednesday. "I intend to present a unity government to the Knesset next week and ask for its confidence vote."

Israel, he said, "needs a broad, responsible government, that would navigate it through the stormy seas ahead. Unity demands compromises. In this case, our faction had to pay an actual price. I am very well aware of it and I will do everything I can to ensure the leading voices here will be expressed in the government.

"We hope to finish the coalition framework within the next day or two," he added. Addressing the shrinking number of portfolios left available for Likud members, Netanyahu said that "Likud members, maybe more than anyone else, have demonstrated personal and national responsibility, and a level of restrain unheard-of in Israeli politics, and I know how hard it is."

Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar, chairman of the Likud faction, who heads the party's coalition negotiation team, told his peers that the Likud has been able to strike a deal with Habayit Hayehudi party just moment before the faction was called into session.

Netnayahu's site to continue with personal Blogs

Dear friends,
We would like to announce of the re-opening of our official Likud and Netanyahu's website in three different languages: Hebrew, English and Russian.
The website which is to be updated on a daily basis would assist you, the supporters and readers, to be updated with the main daily decisions and occasions, to read about the government's assemble, the meetings and the news.
Your stands can be published on the website's blogs and thus an interaction between Mr. Netanyahu's team and you will be established. Prime Minister designate Netanyahu, will be receiving your views from time to time, and we shall try to reply to your posts on the site accordingly.
The website fits to international standards, and allows you to start your own personal blog pages, in which your stands and views can be published, as well as questions and opinions that can be shared with the rest of the website's visitors.
I urge you all to use this fantastic democratic tool, in order to better state our opinions and to try to influence the decision makers as well as to create a connection between the government officials and the surfers online.
Facebook groups will be update as well…

Netanyahu vows to hold peace talks with PA

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday to engage in peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

"I will negotiate with the PA for peace," the Likud leader told Israeli, Arab and foreign businesspeople, speaking at the STEP Jerusalem Wealth Management Conference.

He also said that peace is an enduring goal for all Israeli governments, and that the Palestinians must understand that his government will be a partner for peace.

The comments appeared to be aimed at easing concerns that the right-wing leader will try to freeze past peace efforts once he takes office.

Netanyahu has said in the past that instead of talking about contentious issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the first step to a lasting peace needs to be the fostering of the Palestinians' economic situation.

At the conference, he also stressed the importance of Palestinian economic development.

The Likud leader told the conference participants that "security, prosperity and peace are all intertwined," and urged them to invest in the Palestinian economy.

"You won't be disappointed," he told the businesspeople

Netanyahu considers Likud ministry rotation

(Jpost).Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to appoint some of the Likud's ministers in a rotation system, replacing them during his tenure, Army Radio reported Wednesday, citing his wish to stave off anger within Likud following Tuesday's deal with Labor which left a severe shortage of available portfolios for the party.

Senior Likud officials were quoted by the radio station on Wednesday morning as expressing outrage at the outcome of coalition talks with Labor, saying that "there are no senior portfolios left for us, maybe it's time we moved to the Labor party."

Leading the disillusioned Likud MKs was Silvan Shalom, who is now not expected to get a senior portfolio in the next government. Netanyahu has adopted a tough stance against Shalom, insisting that he won't even appoint him deputy prime minister.

However, not all the Likud MKs were dissatisfied, with MK Ophir Akunis saying that in any coalition-building process, some people were bound to be disappointed.

"I believe that eventually, Likud will have some very important portfolios, like the Finance, Transportation and Communications ministries," he said. "At the moment, what is important is to leave politics aside and concentrate on national interests."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ben Eliezer was key to Likud/Labor agreement

The secret of how the second Netanyahu government arose
(Yossi Verter-Haaretz).One of the first telephone calls that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu made on Tuesday after the votes at the Labor Party convention were counted was to Labor MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who is slated to be minister of industry, trade and labor in the new government.

The two celebrated as they recalled their shared secret - the secret of how the second Netanyahu government came into being.

It began last Wednesday at a house on a quiet street in Azor, near Tel Aviv, when Netanyahu and Ben-Eliezer sneaked into the home of Netanyahu adviser Shaya Segal, who is also a friend of Ben-Eliezer, through a side door.

The visit came on the heels of several discussions between Netanyahu and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak. It was Barak who suggested that the Likud leader speak to Ben-Eliezer, who opposed joining a Netanyahu government. If Ben-Eliezer could be convinced, Barak said, Labor would be in the government.

In Azor, Ben-Eliezer suggested involving Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini. A meeting was then scheduled among the union leader, Netanyahu and Barak at Barak's high-rise apartment in Tel Aviv.

Eini left that meeting in favor of Labor joining the government, and Netanyahu then publicly asked Labor to come on board. That was followed by Barak's call to convene a party convention, a process that culminated in Tuesday's vote in favor of joining the coalition.

Though it went against his nature, Ben-Eliezer maintained his silence for a week. But had he not given the green light to Barak and Netanyahu at Shaya Segal's house in Azor last week, it is very doubtful that the prime minister-designate would have been able to present a government that included Labor - something he now intends to do next Monday.

Is UTJ refusal to enter Coalition religious issues or Personal Political

BChadrie Charedim Forum reports sources in UTJ claiming that Benjamin Netanyahu had to say this week that "a Mk of ' Yahadut Hatora ' told me that if I will not support his nomination to the leadership of the committee of the treasury, then ' Yahadut Hatora ' will obtain itself in the opposition".


Danon Calls on NU, Bayit Hayehudi to Join Coalitionl

(IsraelNN.com).Likud MK Danny Danon called on both the National Union and Jewish Home parties to join the Likud-led governing coalition, despite the fact that Labor chose to join the coalition on Tuesday. Danon emphasized that he himself feels ideologically close to the national religious parties.

Danon explained that the fact that Labor chose to join the government makes it all the more important that the National Union and Jewish Home parties join as well. He added that, “Barak also realizes that there is no one to talk to in the Palestinian Authority.”

Inuagration '09 - Netanyahu's Gov't to be sworn in on Tue. march 31

Source: Arutz 2

Barak strives to keep Labor party united

Labor chairman Ehud Barak will meet one-on-one with his opponents in the Labor faction on Wednesday to demand that they respect the decision by the party's convention on Tuesday night to join Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition.

Barak will try to build on the momentum of his significant victory at the stormy convention. Out of the convention delegates who cast ballots, 680 voted for Barak's proposal and 507 against it.

Netanyahu immediately called Barak to congratulate him and thank him for joining the next government. With Labor in hand, Netanyahu now wants to complete the process of forming a coalition by Monday.

To that end, the Likud's negotiating team will meet on Wednesday with representatives of Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism.

Kadima- You had your Chance!!

all i have to say to Kadima when they attack and hammer the Netanyahu government:Guys!!! You had your Chance 3 years,you Failed... now is our time to Lead ...clean up your mess....and bring back this Country on tracks...
The Likud Government won't hesitate to defend Israel's interests and right to Defend itself, and will be United together for the cause of the State of Israel.

Kadima: Barak giving political opportunism a bad name

Defense Minister Ehud Barak's rivals in the Labor Party are furious over the coalition agreement he signed Tuesday morning with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, just hours before the Central Committee meeting aimed at deciding whether the party should join a Likud-led government.

Meanwhile, the Kadima party, which may find itself pretty much alone in the opposition, is not missing a chance to attack its two rival parties.

"This is the dirty trick of 2009," said Knesset Member Yoel Hasson, referring to Barak's plan to join "an extreme right-wing party."

According to Hasson, "Barak is taking advantage of his party's exhaustion for a clearance sale of its ideology and way, raping his faction members to renounce their values and giving political opportunism a bad name for the sake of a work roster."

MK Yohanan Plesner, his fellow faction members, slammed the agreement signed between the Likud and Shas: "Labor is entering the government under the lame pretense of saving the economy, but in reality, Netanyahu already sold the State to the ultra-Orthodox parties before elections.

"Netanyahu's deals with Shas prove that the leading principle in the government being formed is the purchase of power and not rehabilitating the market."

Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On said that "a person who goes to sleep with rags should not be surprised when he wakes up in the morning wet and not smelling good."

Labor votes in favor of joining Likud coalition

The Labor Party Central Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of joining Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, despite vocal opposition from within the party.

Netanyahu reached the preliminary agreement with Barak early Tuesday. Labor Party activists gathered later in the afternoon to vote on the deal, which calls on the government to pursue peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak drafted the deal with Netanyahu. But half of the party's lawmakers objected to teaming up with Netanyahu because of his long-standing opposition to peace efforts.

Ahead of the vote, Barak took the stand and in an impassioned speech said "we are responsible for the Labor Party, but we also have a responsibility to the state of Israel, to peace, to security. We don't have a back-up country, Yitzhak Rabin said that, and it is still true."

"Labor voters want to see us in the government, they want to see us there because we don't have a spare country," Barak added.

Addressing the opposition among some of his fellow party members to his move to join the coalition, and consequent criticism of him and his supporters, the Labor chairman went on to say that "there is no one here that is doing nothing more than holding on to a chair, and there's also no one here who epitomizes nothing but pure ideology - we're all friends. I reject with all my might the unfair and ludicrous attacks against [Labor MK] Shalom Simhon, against [Labor MK] Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and against me? Anyone who thinks that it is wiser to build the Labor Party as a fifth wheel in the opposition and not as a counter-force to the right-wing elements in the government doesn't know what he's talking about."

"I am not afraid of Benjamin Netanyahu. I won't serve as a fig leaf to anyone, and I won't be anyone's dead weight. We will be the counter-force that will prevent the formation of a narrow right-wing government, and ensure the establishment of a real government that will take care of the Israeli people," Barak continued.

The Labor leader rejected claims that he was motivated by selfish interests, saying that his only priority is the welfare of the country. "I am not chasing after any position," he said, "and I've manned almost all the positions, I was prime minister, defense minister, chief of staff, GOC and commander of the elite forces unit Syeret Matkal. I don't need any more positions. Anyone who thinks that I am concerned with personal survival, I urge him to listen to the criticism hurled at us and understand the price one pays when going against the grain, against the trend, toward what is truly right for Israel."

Faction whip Eitan Cabel, one of the vocal opposition to Barak's move, warned that the party was losing its way. "What killed us over the last decade is the fact that we lost faith in our path."

"We have turned into the [far right-wing party] National Union of the secular sector. We always affect change from within, and slowly we are dying," Cabel continued, adding that "those who support the coalition deal with Likud are looking to crush their home."


Key Labor minister Herzog announces support for joining coalition

Senior Labor minister Isaac Herzog on Tuesday announced his support for party leader Ehud Barak's bid to bring the center-left Labor into a coalition headed by Prime Minister-Designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

"A far-right government could push us to the brink of catastrophe," he said. "If it was possible for a government to be formed in which we could have a truly dramatic influence over all aspects, then I would want to be there and think that my party will not be damaged as a result"

Herzog, who until recently had refrained from voicing his opinion, made the comments shortly after negotiators from Labor and Netanyahu's Likud initialed a draft coalition agreement. The move has been bitterly opposed by seven of the party's 13 MK's.

He added: "I believe the agreement will have a dramatic impact on the way Israel will be governed in the coming years."

Netanyahu, Barak strike coalition deal

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Labor Party's Central Committee will convene at Tel Aviv's Exhibition
Grounds on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matter. Chairman Ehud Barak met
early Tuesday with Likud leader and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin
Netanyahu and signed a coalition agreement which would be presented to the

The two party leaders arrived at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan in an
attempt to bridge the differences and finalize the remaining issues in the
coalition negotiations, mainly on the economic level.

At around 9 am, the sides reported of significant progress in the talks. The
issues agreed upon and slated to appear in the coalition agreement between
the two parties include the following:

- Israel will work to reach a comprehensive regional agreement for peace and
cooperation in the Middle East.
- Israel is committed to all diplomatic and international agreements signed
by the Israeli governments.
- The government will work to obtain peace agreements with each of its
- The defense minister (Barak) will be a full partner in the diplomatic
process and will be a partner in any limited forum aimed at making decisions
in the diplomatic, security and economic field.
- The government will work to enforce the law in terms of the illegal
outposts, as well as illegal Palestinian construction.

"We have reached unprecedented achievements," said Histadrut Chairman Ofer
Eini, a member of Labor's negotiation team. According to the agreement, the
party will receive five ministers and two deputy ministers, as well as the
chairmanship of a Knesset committee.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Netanyahu's meeting with Peres:Unity is needed

To all angry and over heated Likud members:

Lets be Honest and not forget that Likud did not win this Election,Yes! the Right wing coalition enjoys a majority in the Knesset and the left wing coalition dealt a blow,But what counts is a Government and without Lieberman we have no Gov't, and without Labor we don't have a stable Gov't, we tend to forget but since the right toppled the previous Netanyahu Gov't what did we get? Intifada, Disengagement,2 wars and a captured soldier,A Sharon Government that agreed to the Road map and to a 2 State solution,A Olmert Government that agreed to surrender land and Israel security to the Hamas and that led us to 2 wars, These difficult times require Unity,and in order to fix the mess Kadima left us with we have no choice but to get together and rise above our personal interests and emotions and think what's right for the sake of our State,and not to forget that the real decisions are made by the PM, like Olmert failed ,Netanyahu is about to succeed and with united arms and a strong designation to bring this Country back on tracks I believe that we will succeed!!!

Marathon negotiations between Labor, Likud to rach Agreement before Tuesday's vote

The Likud and Labor launched a marathon negotiation session on Monday evening, in a bid to reach the finish line before Labor votes on whether to enter a coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu.

Minister Shalom Simhon opened the meeting by saying the teams are willing to negotiate through the night and until the afternoon vote if necessary.

Earlier in the evening the Labor negotiators briefed Chairman Ehud Barak on the talks that took place throughout the day.

The representatives sat down for the first time on Monday afternoon at Ramat Gan's Kfar Hamaccabiyah Hotel, where the talks immediately hit several walls.

"We are facing some major obstacles in the coalition talks, particularly regarding the protection of the rule of law," Minister Simhon confirmed.

Some of Labor's demands would force the Likud to alter clauses in deals already signed with other parties. Labor wants a rotation for the leadership of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee – which has been promised to Yisrael Beitenu.

Prime Minister-designate Netanayhu and Barak are personally involved in the proceedings, discussing the developments over the telephone.

The two may decide to meet over the course of the coming 24 hours to resolve the remaining points of contention prior to the Labor vote.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Failed War PM lashes out at his successer without any shame

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday slammed Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak's efforts to join the government, saying that the incoming right-wing government was likely to bring the State of Israel into unprecedented isolation.

"Anyone who consciously walks into a government that does not believe in two states for two people is likely to force Israel into an isolation it has not seen since its establishment," Olmert told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting.

Olmert took the opportunity to criticize the politics of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and hinted that he saw Barak as a 'scoundrel' for seeking to join up with a rightist coalition.

"Whoever thinks he can succeed in reaching international cooperation on the Iran issue on the basis of a policy which rejects any political agreement with the Palestinians and the Syrians is delusional," said Olmert.

"Whoever believes this, I can only say that I pity his dogma. But someone who doesn't believe in this, yet still cooperates, I can only say I pity the scoundrel," he added.

Shas signs coalition deal with Likud, giving Netanyahu 53 MKs

(Jpost).Shas became the second party to join Prime Minister-designate Binyamin
Netanyahu's government Sunday night, Army Radio reported just after

According to the report, Shas chairman Eli Yishai will take the Interior
Ministry portfolio as part of the agreement.

The deal also guarantees the Shas the Construction and Housing, and
Religious Services portfolios. The party gave up its attempt to appoint a
minister for haredi education and instead will receive a
minister-without-portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office.

Netanyahu now has a coalition of 53 MKs in hand from Likud, Israel Beiteinu
and Shas. Coalition talks will continue on Monday with Labor, United Torah
Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi.

The party will also have a deputy minister in the Finance Ministry

Netanyahu to open Israel-Palestinian investment conference

Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu is due to open the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) Jerusalem Wealth Management Conference on March 25. Netanyahu is expected to talk about his new government’s commitment to the economic stability of the region, and to use the event to launch his program for economic peace.
The Jerusalem Wealth Management Conference will discuss issues faced today by individuals, families and companies wishing to invest in the Israeli and Palestinian economies. The speakers will include representatives of the Bank of Israel, Ministry of Trade, the International Monetary Fund, the Association of Banks in Palestine, the US Embassy in Israel, the new Israel-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, and the PalTel Group.

The conference will be held in English at Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel. It will be attended by high-net-worth investors and international institutions and their Israel-based financial and legal advisors.

The event is being hosted by STEP and organized by Fortress Capital Management, whose Middle East Chairman Dylan Shub says, “We believe that this event will provide unparalleled opportunities to look beyond divisive politics and instead explore exciting commercial and financial ventures which are of economic benefit to all.”

Labor party chief Ehud Barak on Sunday set up a team to negotiate a possible coalition agreement

Labor party chief Ehud Barak on Sunday set up a team to negotiate a possible coalition agreement with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's Likudparty.

Labor has certain demands concerning economic, social and security issues, and "deliberations on these issues have yet to be exhausted and seeing eye to eye on them is pivotal to an agreement," said Barak's office in a statement.

Presenting the conference with a de facto agreement with Likud would undoubtedly increase both the pressure on the dissidents and the possibility of it being approved, noted the report.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Peres gives Netanyahu more time

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu arrived Friday morning at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, where President Shimon Peres granted him a 14-day extension in order to form his government.

Netanyahu expressed his hope that "all leaders will reconsider the offer to form a wide national unity government".

The Likud leader is currently in the midst of a campaign aimed at convincing members of the Labor Party to join his coalition. Labor Chairman Ehud Barak plans to bring the matter to the party's Central Committee on Tuesday.

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai joined Netanyahu's effort on Friday morning in a conversation with Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel. He stressed the urgency of Labor joining the government in favor of dealing with the challenges facing Israel.

Netanyahu told Peres at the start of the meeting, "I could have presented a government to you and to the people of Israel by Sunday, but I chose to ask you for the extension in order to exert every effort which will lead to a national unity government as I promised Israel's citizens in the election campaign.

The prime minister-designate said his opinion on the matter had become stronger following his meetings with the General Staff and heads of the economy.

"We are facing difficult threats and an economic crisis. I hope all the leaders reconsider the offer to form a national unity government and put aside any personal and party-related consideration," he said.

President Peres replied, "I have a lot of appreciation for your efforts to form a wide government. It's sensible. As for the State's situation, I fully share your opinion."

Obama takes teleprompter overseas with a message to celebrate Iranian New year

Netanyahu's efforts to create a Unity Gov't is to be supported

Despite Likud MKs express that they felt uncomfortable with Netanyahu trying so hard to avoid forming a homogeneous coalition of 65 MKs on the Right,Others questioned the price he was willing to pay to bring in Labor when more than half its 13 MKs fiercely opposed joining,Netanyahu is doing the right thing and the right choice with his efforts to bring the Labor Party into a national unity government,for the good of our Country and for the tasks that are ahead of us.
We all got to support him and salute him as he is entering this difficult job in such difficult and crucial times for Israel and the free world,only a strong united government that is combined by all parts of the Nation can defend Israel's interests and its Security and bring us back on track.

Netanyahu to meet reticent Labor MKs to cinvince them joining the Gov't

(Haaretz).Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu intends to meet by Tuesday with all Labor MKs who object to joining a national unity government.

Netanyahu is getting involved in Labor affairs because he fears Barak will fail to pass his proposal to join the government at his party convention on Tuesday, Likud sources said.

Barak has met with the reticent MKs, as well as with central activists and MKs who support the move.

Histadrut secretary-general Ofer Eini has been telling people, "It would be suicide not to enter the government. We're in an economic crisis, and in a few months there will be hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers."

Yachimovich said Barak was killing their party's chances of being a true alternative for Israel's electorate by considering Likud's coalition offer.

Barak responded to his critics Thursday, saying, "What is wrong with talking to Netanyahu? I have spoken with senior PLO terrorists. Is Netanyahu the worst of our nation's enemies?"

Barak added that leaving the country's problems in the hands of a narrow right-wing government would be irresponsible. "The public's true dream government is a Likud-Kadima-Labor government. Both Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu said before the elections that they would work to forge a unity government."

ANALYSIS / Bibi and Barak are a perfect political match

(Aluf Benn-Haaretz).There's scarcely a more natural political pair than Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak,They both served in the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, where Ehud was Bibi's commander. There was Hanan Crystal's 1986 prediction in Hadashot that UN ambassador Netanyahu and Central Command CO Barak would be the future Likud and Labor leaders.

The prime minister-designate and his defense minister candidate share not only a past, but a future. They have been given the opportunity to return to the state's leadership with Bibi as commander and Ehud as his No. 2.

They have similar approaches to state affairs. Both consider Israel a fortified Western island in the heart of an Arab-Muslim ocean. Both both believe there is nobody to talk to and nothing to discuss on the Palestinian side, and neither believe a final status arrangement is near, if at all possible. Both saw Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni's Annapolis process as a waste of time.

They can both accept the Arab initiative, with reservations, as a basis for talks with the neighboring states, and probably would prefer to start with Syria.

Netanyahu, who had strained relations with the IDF in his previous term, would be happy to see Barak in charge of the general staff. Both are not enthusiastic about big military operations, and prefer covert moves. Barak will help Netanyahu moderate calls for harsh military action after terror attacks, and protect him from right-wing pressure to speed up settlement construction in the West Bank.

Barak's good relations with Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, Obama's secretaries of state and defense, will help Netanyahu forge good ties with America. This will be critical next year, when it's time to decide whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. At that moment Bibi will want Ehud Barak next to him in the bunker, like in the old days.

Only one thing can spoil this wonderful marriage: the character of the spouses, which has tripped them up before. Olmert also considered Barak a friend and political partner once, but when Barak joined his cabinet he became a subversive and bitter rival, and ousted Olmert from office. But Netanyahu has probably taken that into consideration.


(WorldTribune). Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi cut short his visit to Washington after getting an extraordinarily cool reception from the new U.S. administration.

On March 12, Ashkenazi left for a five-day visit to the United States meant to lobby the Obama administration to abandon the planned U.S. dialogue with Iran, Middle East Newsline reported. Ashkenazi, scheduled to meet with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, was expected to have brought new Israeli intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

But the diplomatic sources said the administration made it clear that nobody in a policy-making position was available to sit with Ashkenazi. This included the president, Vice President Joseph Biden, Gates, National Intelligence director Dennis Blair or Mullen.

["With regards to a meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one was not scheduled between Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi and Adm. Mullen," the IDF stated. "Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi has met with Adm. Mullen five times in the past year."]

"The administration is sending a very clear message to Israel, and this is we want to talk about Palestine and not Iran," a diplomat who has been following U.S.-Israel relations said.

Ashkenazi obtained an appointment with National Security Advisor James Jones. But the sources said the meeting was to focus on U.S. demands for Israel to ease military restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The Obama administration believes that Israel is as much or more of a problem as it is an ally, at least until Israel's disagreements with its neighbors are resolved," former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said.

The sources said Israel has sought a U.S. commitment to limit its dialogue with Iran. Israel has also urged Obama to make it clear that the military option against Iran's nuclear program exists.

But Obama and his top aides appear uninterested in hearing Israel's position.

"Ashkenazi sees this U.S. refusal as what has been undermining Israeli deterrence toward Iran and boosting the confidence of the Teheran regime," the source said. "The mullahs in regime have concluded that America has dropped the military option and won't allow such an option to Israel."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sources say Netanyahu set to visit U.S.

(UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu wants to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama during his upcoming U.S. visit, sources say.
Unidentified sources close to Netanyahu said the Israeli leader is planning on making his first working visit to the United States on May 3 to attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, Haaretz said Thursday.
The sources said AIPAC officials have invited Netanyahu to take part in the Washington conference while Obama's administration has yet to coordinate a meeting of the two new leaders.

A STEP TO UNITY: Netanyahu to ask for continuance on coalition mandate

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with President Shimon Peres on Sunday and ask him for a 14-day continuance in order to form the new government.

The move is apparently also aimed at giving Labor Chairman Ehud Barak a chance to present to the Labor committee on Tuesday his proposal to launch formal coalition negotiations with Likud.

According the Israeli statute, the original presidential mandate of 28 days, which expires on Friday, can be extended by up to a fortnight.

Netanyahu has spoken recently to a number of Labor members in an effort to convince them to support the party's participation in his burgeoning government.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Barak: Nation wants us to join Netanyahu's government

Labor Chairman Ehud Barak says he is interested in bringing the prospect of his party joining the Netanyahu government to a vote.

"Most citizens and most Labor voters want to see the party as leadership partner," Barak's office said in a statement Wednesday evening.

According to the statement, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu approached Barak and asked him to join the next government. "The country's wellbeing, in light of the challenges it faces in the political, security, economic, and social spheres requires the Labor party to seriously weigh (the option of joining the government) and take a decision via the party's institutions," Barak said.

According to the Labor chairman, "we're all emissaries on behalf of the party. Nobody stands above it." His statement noted that, should Labor's fundamental demands be met, Barak will bring the issue to a vote in the party.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Netanyahu to put Israel's interest and Security first

In response to Solana threatening Netanyahu with these words,

“Let me say very clearly that the way the European Union will relate to an government that is not committed to a two-state solution will be very, very different.”

Zalman Shoval, a former ambassador to the US and a top adviser to Netanyahu, explained Netanyahu’s position.

The new government had every intention of respecting its international obligations as long as they did not pose a security threat.

“The European Union and this government are going to get along very well, given that most of the countries in Europe today are under leaderships who are basically friendly to Israel,” said Shoval. “I do not foresee any major problems.”

Netanyahu, he said, intended to continue to actively pursue negotiations with the Palestinians. However, he added, “we are not saying a priori what the solution would be.”

In his conversation with the Post, he shied away from the phrase “two-state solution” and favored instead words like “arrangement” or “international obligations.” He preferred to speak of the Palestinian “entity” rather than state.

“But we are definitely going to continue political talks,” Shoval said.

A “two-state solution should not be regarded as an ideology or a mantra, but as a formula which has to be judged according to its practical ability,” said Shoval.

“We do hope that the European Union will regard any possible solution in a pragmatic way, without preconceived ideas,” said Shoval. He added that he had every reason to believe that the new administration in the United States under President Barack Obama would do the same.

No one, he said, wanted to revive the Annapolis process under which talks with the Palestinians were held during the last year.

At the same time, “we are not saying that everything has to start from square one,” said Shoval.

He noted Netanyahu has had a history of respecting past diplomatic initiatives and did not abandon Oslo when he was prime minister from 1996 to 1999.

But it was clear that the previous administration under former president George Bush did not make progress and that new ideas must be tried, said Shoval.

Even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have said their efforts had failed, continued Shoval.

“The achievements were zero, so why would we go blindly down the same track without adding additional ideas,” he said.

Netanyahu, he said, would be looking to propose new ideas on how to move the peace process forward, with a focus on improving the Palestinian’s economic situation.

The solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict, he said, could be based on the US-backed “road map” initiated by Bush in 2002, which speaks of a Palestinian state.

But in considering that document, Shoval said Netanyahu’s government would want to focus on elements that have yet to be tried. He added that the road map document he referenced was the one which was amended by Israel.

Olmert’s government erred, he said, by moving to the final stages of the road map process without insuring the initial ones were fulfilled. The issue of borders comes up only in the third stage, he added.

I totally agree with this position. Netanyahu wants to avoid the left and the right pulling him off his course in either direction and that is why he has had difficulties building his coalition,

But this explanation covers a lot of ground.

Netanyahu wants as his point of reference Bush’s vision speech of 2002, not the Roadmap, not the Saudi Plan and not Annapolis.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

As we make progress towards security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop. pay per click advertisingThe Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life.

Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government. The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development.

Netanyahu embraces all these things with the exception of stopping settlement construction in toto. He intends to allow internal growth which Israel has being doing all along.

Notice the mention of Jordan and Egypt.

This point of reference predates the Roadmap with its introduction of the Saudi Plan calling for a just settlement of the refugee problem division of Jerusalem and retreat to ‘67 borders.

Livni rejected Netanyahu’s embrace specifically because he would not accept a two-state solution. Does she really believe that Netanyahu’s course will not be productive or is she just being political. After all she had two years to move the two-state solution forward and made no progress whatsoever.

Under Netanyahu’s approach, no commitment is being given regarding ultimate borders, the division of Jerusalem, the return of refugees or even the creation of a sovereign state. Just the opposite of Annapolis.

Furthermore he has committed to Lieberman to topple Hamas something Livni/Barak refused to do.

Netanyahu has been at the forefront in the battle against Iran. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is now in Washington telling them the IDF must prepare to strike Iran. In that he is fully supported by Netanyahu.

The US needs a pliable Iran on the issues of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not without reason to hope that Obama may in the end give Israel the green light or perhaps just a nod.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Economic Conference Statement

Netanyahu makes a statement before meeting leaders of Israels economy

Benjamin Netanyahu meets with social & welfare organisations

Egypt said planning to invite Netanyahu for official visit

Egypt will invite Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu for an
official visit as soon as he takes office, Likud MK Ayoob Kara told Haaretz

Kara said the message came from Egyptian ambassador Yasser Rida.

Kara also said he wanted to prevent a Netanyahu government from being
perceived as trying to harm the peace process or Arab states. "I believe
only the right wing can bring a true peace, and this is why I'm conducting
talks with Arab officials," said Kara.

Egypt had previously voiced concern over the positions of the government
being formed, but emphasized that any Israeli leadership will be measured by
its deeds, not by its officials' past statements. This may apply in
particular to Avigdor Lieberman, who is likely to be foreign minister. Last
year, his anti-Egypt comments caused considerable furor there

Netanyahu asks Peres to weigh in on coalition talks- to try and convince Likud, Labor to join unity government

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Shimon Peres Monday and asked him to facilitate the formation of a national unity government which would include the Labor and Kadima parties.

Likud source said that the coalition talks between the party and Kadima were at an impasse, due to fundamental disagreements about the government's core policies and the rotation in premiership.

Earlier Monday, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said that her party's stance in the negotiations has remained unchanged, adding that if she "thought there was a genuine wish to form a real unity government I would explore the matter wholeheartedly."

Labor Chairman Ehud Barak also met with Netanyahu - to no avail, according to Labor sources.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kadima, Likud renew coalition efforts

Even as a narrow right-wing coalition takes shape, a senior Kadima official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night that Kadima and the Likud have renewed discussions on a possible national unity government.

The latest round of talks between the two largest parties were initially brokered by Likud negotiation team chief MK Gideon Sa'ar and Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi, but sources in the parties said that subsequently, Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni held direct talks.

Netanyahu and Livni have reportedly already held one meeting together, and more are likely.

Livni was willing to compromise on the issue of a rotation for the premiership, with Netanyahu serving for three years in the top spot, and Livni completing the final 21 months of the scheduled term, Kadima officials said.

'Strategic thought team' to advise Netanyahu's new government

(Haaretz).A group of former top security, government and economic officials are offering crisis management and decision-making services to the new government.

The "strategic thought team" will present its main findings for the Benjamin Netanyahu administration's first 100 days Sunday at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, in a conference by the Lauder School of Government.

The team members include former Military Intelligence head Amos Malka, strategic adviser Haim Asa, Lauder dean Alex Mintz, former Africa Israel CEO Erez Meltzer and outgoing Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel. Former air force chief Eliezer Shkedi is expected to join at a later date.

The team will advise government bodies like the Prime Minister's Office, National Insurance Institute and the Foreign and Defense Ministries.

Mintz will present a plan for addressing the Iranian nuclear threat by creating a civil administration to coordinate economic warfare, sanctions, influencing Iranian public opinion, military preparations, public relations and legal action against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In addition, Asa will present the administration with three recommendations: stepping up negotiating efforts with Syria as a cornerstone for a regional peace agreement, changing government offices (in particular, moving the Finance Ministry's budget division to the Prime Minister's Office to help set the national agenda) and developing a national security project for developing drones, which will not only bolster national security but will also find work for unemployed high-tech professionals.