Netanyahu forced to go with right-wing government

Monday, March 09, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has been forced to forge a narrow right-wing government after Ehud Barak and his Labor Party broke off unity coalition talks over the weekend.

While Barak was willing to join a Netanyahu government in order to remain defense minister, the rest of his party refused to compromise their socialist economic and land-for-peace policies to sit in a Likud-led coalition.

As a result, Netanyahu on Sunday quickly concluded a coalition deal with his largest right-wing partner, Israel Beiteinu, by handing party leader Avigdor Lieberman the Foreign Ministry. Israel Beiteinu will also receive at least five more ministerial positions.

That news did not sit well with some Israelis, who fear that Lieberman, having been labeled a "racist" by the Israeli media for demanding loyalty from the nation's Arab population, will sully Israel's image on the international stage.

Others noted that with his tough exterior, Lieberman might be the perfect foreign minister to stand up to expected increased pressure from Europe and the Obama Administration to surrender more land to the Arabs.

Netanyahu is also working to bring Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Jewish Home parties into his government for a slim 61-seat Knesset majority.

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