Monday, May 7, 2012

UPDATED: The Deal: Unity Government Untill November 2013 - Mofaz Vice Premier

The details By Ilan Ben Zion-Times of Israel:
Shortly after 2:30 AM Netanyahu and Mofaz arrived at the Knesset to brief their parties of the details of their agreement. Kadima joined the government in exchange for Mofaz’s appointment as a deputy prime minister, a minister without portfolio, and a cabinet member. 

Additionally, the government will propose a replacement for the Tal Law, which is set to expire in August. Mofaz said that in the coming year Kadima will receive additional ministerial positions. Both parties have agreed that the 18th Knesset will complete its term and elections will be held on schedule in November 2013. 

“Moments before the dissolution of the Knesset, a hasty meeting to establish a national unity government,” Likud MK Carmel Shama Cohen wrote on his Facebook wall. Initial reports indicated that Netanyahu and Mofaz identified a common interest in staving off early elections and forging a new unity partnership: It would reduce the prime minister’s dependence on the smaller factions that have been pressuring him, and it would give Mofaz a chance to try to build up Kadima’s public standing. 

Jacob Kornbluh explaining the political developments, for those not familiar with Israeli politics:
"This was the shortest election season in the history of Israel. Last week Monday, amid facing problematic difficulties in operating as a stable government, and the failure to come to an agreement with the Ultra-Orthodox parties and coalition partners on a national service bill, replacing the Tal-Law, PM Netanyahu called for early Knesset elections, in order to restore government stability, and the prevent any of the smaller parties to threaten to leave and break the coalition. 

Riding high in the poll, the motive to call for early elections was viewed as an attempt of Netanyahu to take advantage of his popularity and get a renewed mandate, if according to some polls Obama is elected to a second term. In a dramatic shift that took the Israeli political establishment yet again by surprise, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz signed late Monday night an agreement to form a nation unity government that will serve until October 2013. 

To Run the Government: In order to serve as Prime Minister, you need to have a majority - sixty one of the 120 seats in the Parliament (aka Knesset). Obviously, over the past decades, no party won enough seats, so the government operates as a coalition of various parties. 

The Government Until Now Comprised of 67 Seats: Bibi’s Likud 17; Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu 15; Shas 11, Barak 5, United Torah Judaism 5, Jewish Home 4. 

What Could Have Been: Because the Ultra religious parties such as Shas and UTJ are not happy with Bibi’s approach to the alternative Tal Law, they could threaten to leave the coalition. So in order to prevent or preempt such a move, he called for early elections, and with polls showing him gaining more seats on the backs of others, he had the upper hand. 

What Happened Now: Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Kadima, fearing of losing many seats and lose the chance of even become relevant in a future government, offered to join Bibi’s coalition and negotiated a deal to form a unity government. Thus, giving Netanyahu a strong NINTY FIVE seat majority - the largest coalition in Israel’s history. Now even if Shas, UTJ decide to leave the coalition, Bibi will still remain in power with a stronger and larger government, since Kadima is now on board. 

What it means for Iran (and Obama): Well… Bibi is now stronger than ever.
UPDATE: Likud MK, Danny Dannon opposes unity deal: