Israel's Livni makes progress toward new government

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appeared to be making significant progress toward forming a new government after winning last week's primary election to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as head of their ruling Kadima Party.

Livni has 42 days to form a new government and replace Olmert as prime minister, and she is wasting no time.

Livni needs both of the current coalition parties Labor and Shas to sign up for her new government if she is to have a majority in Israel's Knesset.

Livni has already met twice with Labor Party head and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak twice since the primary. Labor sources told Army Radio that Barak is "on the way to" joining a new coalition headed by Livni, though he has made comments indicating that he intends to be anything but subservient to the new prime minister.

First were the rumors that Barak had demanded veto power in exchange for joining Livni's government. Then on Tuesday Barak announced that Labor under his command will "continue to lead the country," a veiled suggestion that he will be the true head of the new government.

Livni also met with Shas chief Eli Yishai to hear his parties many demands for joining the government.

Israeli commentators contrasting Livni to the far more hardened Golda Meir fear that in a chauvinist society, Israel's second female prime minister will be walked all over by her leading male cabinet colleagues.

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