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Livni advisor says no election decision yet

Livni advisor says no election decision yet

Israel moved closer over the weekend to holding early elections, with Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni due to inform President Shimon Peres on Sunday whether she intended to go to the polls or attempt to rule with a potentially fragile coalition after the third-largest party in parliament refused to join her alliance.
Livni's point man on coalition talks said in a local television interview that the final decision had yet to be made.
"Everything is open, everything is still possible," Cabinet minister Tzahi Hanegbi told Channel Two TV. "Not for long of course, tomorrow afternoon she will go to the president. Maybe before the night is over we shall know what she is going to tell the president."
Livni on Thursday announced an ultimatum, giving potential partners three days to join a new government under her leadership or face the prospect of going to the polls. Her Kadima party already has the backing of the center-left Labor party and is likely to keep the small Pensioners party in the government but needed to get the ultra-Orthodox Shas party on board to secure a solid majority in the 120-seat parliament.
On Friday, however, Shas said it would not join Livni as she had refused to pledge that the future status of Jerusalem would not be on the agenda in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Sovereignty over Arab parts of Jerusalem, where around 270,000 Palestinians live, is a key Palestinian demand without which a peace treaty would be impossible.
The renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a U.S.-hosted conference last November was supposed to have produced a final deal by the end of 2008, but there has been no agreement and both sides have acknowledged that the target is unreachable.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday that a scheduled Monday meeting between outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had been postponed until further notice. He did not say why.
Israel Radio, citing unnamed Abbas aides, said the postponement was due to internal Israeli political events.
Given the lack of movement toward a peace treaty so far and the lack of any encouraging signs for the near future, Palestinian and Israeli analysts say that an Israeli election, even if it were to put opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in power at the head of a hardline rightist government, could ultimately have less impact than the upcoming U.S. presidential poll.
Opinion polls have indicated that Netanyahu's hawkish Likud party would sweep to power in a general election.
"Netanyahu is definitely bad news for the peace process _ that doesn't exist anyhow _ and Livni is a person who was the chief negotiator, and she didn't do anything," said Ghassan Khatib, a former minister in the Palestinian Cabinet.
"The only other alternative is if the American administration will try to engage,' Khatib said, "This can make a difference, regardless of the (composition of) the Israeli government."
Israeli political commentator Hanan Crystal agreed. "That is always the case, it's an axiom," he said.
No single party has an outright majority in the Knesset _ Israel's parliament _ and Crystal estimated that Livni could govern with the support of as little as 57 or 58 seats, as the opposition was unlikely to muster the 61 votes needed to block her.
By law if she does not win the house's approval for her government by Nov. 3, the country will almost certainly face spring elections, more than a year ahead of schedule.
Peres could technically ask another politician to try to form a government before elections are forced. However, as leader of the largest party in parliament, Livni is the only candidate with a realistic chance of doing so.
Kadima chose Livni, 50, a month ago to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is leaving office to battle corruption charges.
An election victory would make the former lawyer and one-time agent in the Mossad spy agency Israel's second female prime minister after Golda Meir, who served from 1969-1974.


Updated : 2021-07-28 07:43 GMT+08:00