The Jerusalem Post reports that Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has failed to form a viable coalition and will recommend that a general election be held. Livni was thwarted in the end by two religious parties, Shas and Degel Hatorah, which refused to join her coalition. These two parties insist on keeping Jerusalem united. Livni, though willing to make concession after concession to various parties on other matters, would not accept a coalition agreement that excluded Jerusalem from the political talks with the Palestinians.
If Livni had formed a coalition government, she would have been Israel’s leader well into 2010. Now it looks like there will be elections by February 2009.
This is good news because it raises the prospect that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu will return to power. Netanyahu, a hard liner, would be preferable under any circumstances to Livni, whose desire to accommodate the Palestinians is apparently sufficiently intense to prevent her from forming a government. But Netanyahu could prove to be indispensable if Barack Obama is elected president. First, Netanyahu is far more likely to resist the pressure Obama may well exert on Israel to make concessions to its enemies, including terrorists. Second, with Netanyahu in power, the world will at least have one leader of a major power who understands, and perhaps is prepared to deal with, the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.
There is no guarantee, of course, that Netanyahu will defeat Livni next year. To the contrary, most observers consider the race something like a toss-up. But it looks like the Israelis will at least have the opportunity to select a new leader and a new course rather than having to settle for Livni without being consulted.
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