Friday, February 20, 2009
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been given the go-ahead by President Shimon Peres to put together a coalition government.
Peres gave Netanyahu the nod even though Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's more centrist Kadimah Party received one more seat in the Knesset than did Netanyahu's Likud.
Peres believes Netanyahu, who received a key endorsement from a right wing party yesterday, is better positioned to put together a coalition than is Livni.
Kadimah is electing to remain outside of the new government, which must be formed in the next 42 days. But Netanyahu may keep some cabinent positions open to give Kadimah an opportunity to join the government in the future.
Netanyahu's hawkish stance toward Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran is attractive to many Israelis who are tired of trading land for peace but receiving missile attacks instead. But the new government may be an additional frustration to President Obama and others who are hoping to broker a Middle East peace.
Netanyahu, who was educated in the United States, has complete command of the English language and comes across here more like an American than an Israeli politician. Because he is so well-spoken he is a favorite on the speaking circuit and of cable news shows.
But his Israeli support comes from his hard-lined attitude toward terrorists and others who threaten the existence of his nation. During his previous stint as prime minister, Netanyahu championed the establishment of a West Bank Jewish settlement, something the United States felt undermined the fledgling Middle East peace process.
Yet there are those who believe that peace can only be achieved through a strong Israel that is unafraid to take military action when necessary against its enemies. They argue that negotiations that lead to concessions is viewed as a sign of weakness by the Palestinians.
We talk about these issues and more at 5 PM New York time weekdays on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com