Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Israel MPs set to vote on cabinet

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 31 marzo, 2009

BBC NEWS

31 March 2009

Israel’s parliament has begun a special session to vote on the appointment of a new coalition cabinet led by Prime Minster-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, is expected to be sworn into office following the vote.

The cabinet is one of Israel’s largest, with hard-liner Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister and Labour veteran Ehud Barak as minister or defence.

Analysts say Iran’s nuclear programme is likely to top its security agenda.

Western states have voiced concern at the coalition’s likely stance on a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Speaking to the Knesset before being sworn in, Mr Netanyahu said these were “not normal times” for Israel but asked the parliament to trust him “at this time of global crisis, the likes of which we have not had in years”.

“Israel finds itself facing two enormous challenges: an economic challenge, and a security challenge. These two crises have come at time of great international change,” he said.

In an apparent reference to Israel’s neighbour Iran, Mr Netanyahu said the biggest threat to Israel and the world “comes from the possibility of a radical regime armed with nuclear weapons”.

He said it was “shameful” that “calls by Iranian leaders to destroy Israel are greeted with indifference by the world, without being firmly condemned”.

Mr Netanyahu also said he would engage in peace negotiations with Palestinians.

“I say to the Palestinian leadership, if you truly want peace, peace can be obtained,” he said. “We do not want to govern another people. We do not want to exercise our power over the Palestinians.”

But a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the AFP news agency that Mr Netanyahu’s statement was “not encouraging” as it made no reference to the possibility of a future Palestinian state.

Mr Netanyahu has said in the past that he sees no need for the Palestinians to have full separate statehood.

This will be Mr Netanyahu’s second time as prime minister – he last held the office in 1999.

Gaza strike

Earlier on Tuesday, Gazan medical sources said two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said the men had been carrying weapons and were trying to plant an explosive device near the border fence.

One Israeli soldier was lightly injured in an exchange of fire when ground troops crossed the fence shortly after the air strike.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli police said two rockets were fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza. No injuries or damage were reported.

Tensions over Gaza, with no agreed ceasefire in place in the wake of Israel’s bloody operation in January, are one of the pressing security issues the new government will face.

Others include concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme, and whether to pursue a peace deal with Syria.

‘Confetti cabinet’

It has taken weeks of grinding negotiation to create this multi-party cabinet, the BBC’s Tim Franks says, with ministerial posts sprinkled like confetti in an effort to sweeten the coalition deals.

Mr Netanyahu’s biggest achievement has been to persuade the historically left-leaning Labour party to join his government, but this will be a coalition with a strong right-wing tilt, our correspondent adds.

The formation of the government ends nine months of uncertainty since outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced plans to step down in the face of multiple corruption investigations.

In his final speech as prime minister, Mr Olmert said he was “not in the least bit resentful” as he left office, reported Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

Mr Olmert’s Kadima party, which backs a two-state solution and is now led by outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, won the most seats in February elections.

But right-leaning parties did better overall, so her rival, Mr Netanyahu, was considered more likely to be able to form a coalition and invited by President Shimon Peres to try.

Talks aimed at bringing Kadima into a unity government failed, with Ms Livni saying the parties’ platforms were too different.

Sitting in opposition will be new territory for the party, our correspondent notes, and Israeli commentators are divided as to whether the party will profit from its distinctiveness or simply implode.

Paul Wood reports from Jerusalem: The difficulties of coalition building in Israel mean this is a big, big government, with some 30 ministers.

The last time Mr Netanyahu was PM, he failed to complete his term – most Israeli governments don’t and this one, an unwieldy and unhappy amalgam of opposites, stands less chance of success than most.

First order of business will be to deal with the economic crisis. That’s hit Israel just like everywhere else, although, additionally, there may be signs that the Shekel is seriously over-valued.

This new administration doesn’t believe that a negotiated Middle East peace settlement is possible with the Palestinians. They will try instead to contain the conflict while pushing forward Mr Netanyahu’s plan for an “economic peace”, which involves granting the Palestinians something less than a state.

The main issue as far as Mr Netanyahu is concerned is Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions. Whether or not to bomb Iran will be the new prime minister’s most momentous decision – and one he may make quite soon.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7973435.stm

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