Sunday, October 26, 2008

LIVNI TO CALL FOR SNAP ISRAELI POLL

Al Jazeera - Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel's ruling Kadima party, has said she will recommend holding early parliamentary elections, following her failure to form a coalition government.

She was quoted on Sunday by Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper as saying that she would call for elections, confirming what aides had said a day earlier.

"When I had to decide between continued extortion and bringing forward elections, I prefered elections," the newspaper quoted her as saying. Israel Radio suggested the elections could take place in February.

Livni, the designated successor to Ehud Olmert, the scandal-hit outgoing prime minister, is expected to inform Shimon Peres, the country's president, of her decision to call an election in a meeting on Sunday. But Peres will not have to instantly call elections and some analysts believe Livni could be given more time to form a coalition.

"Israeli politicians are extremely creative in finding solutions for crisis and it is possible that there will be a deal or some kind of new negotiations to give Livni another chance," Menechem Hofnung, a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera. "The legal limit is still a week from now so don't be surprised if something comes up, but it looks like we will go to elections."

On Thursday, Livni had to give potential coalition partners an ultimatum - three days to join a new government under her leadership or face the prospect of going to the polls - but that self-imposed deadline has now passed.

The Kadima party already had the backing of the centre-left Labour party and was expected to keep the small Pensioners party in the government, but it needed to get the ultra-Orthodox Shas party on board to secure a majority in the 120-seat parliament. Shas said on Friday 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 deal would be impossible.

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