Obama pressure creating political turmoil in Jerusalem

Sunday, March 28, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Israel's government coalition may be on the verge of collapse thanks to last week's unprecedented pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by US President Barack Obama.

The left-wing Labor Party, which has more or less stood by Netanyahu until now, has demanded that the prime minister bring the opposition Kadima Party into the coalition in order to mend the current rift with Washington.

Senior Labor ministers said Obama's demand that Netanyahu extend indefinitely the Jewish building freeze in Judea and Samaria had given them the opportunity to test the prime minister and his ruling Likud Party.

The freeze is scheduled to expire in September, at which point many Labor lawmakers said they would have fought hard to extend it. But Obama wants Netanyahu's commitment on the matter now.

Labor ministers say the only way forward considering the current situation is for Netanyahu to kick some of his more right-wing coalition partners out of the government and offer Kadima leader Tzipi Livni enough influence and power to entice her to join.

Israeli commentators have suggested that is what Obama wanted all along, since Kadima and Labor are far more in line with Washington's policies of creating a Palestinian state in nearly all of Judea and Samaria with the eastern half of Jerusalem as its capital.

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