Israeli President Shimon Peres has officially asked Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government. Netanyahu promptly said that he would turn first to Kadima. He stated: “I am willing to go to great lengths in the negotiations needed to establish such a government,” adding that he was prepared to offer Kadima several senior portfolios in his cabinet. This in spite of the fact that Netayahu almost certain has the votes to form a government without Kadima.
Kadima’s chair Tzipi Livn, once again seemed pretty much to rule out the possibility of joining a coalition led by Netanyahu. Her associates repeated the mantra that Livni is not willing to sacrifice her ideology, which she believes is far removed from that of the Likud, in exchange for cabinet portfolios. As I observed yesterday, the ideology in question consists of the desire to make concessions to Palestinians in exchange for promises about peace.
Meanwhile, Kadima members reportedly have criticized Livni’s refusal to consider joining Netanyahu. This is understandable, since many Kadima members probably do not share Livni’s ideology. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that Kadima, formed a few years ago for pragmatic reasons by the hawkish former Likud chairman Ariel Sharon, has been essentially a party without an ideology. It is thus a bit much for Livni to insist that, in he name of her ideology, the party sit on the sidelines at this crucial moment in Israel’s history.
The Labor party, which dominated Isareli politics for decades, has been banished deep into the wilderness primarily because of its obsession with negotiating a “peace” with Israel’s implacable enemies. Livni seems set on risking a similar exile for Kadima. It might make more sense for Livni to throw in with Labor and for portions of Kadima to throw in with Netanyahu.
This, then, may a case in which the center cannot hold; or, perhaps more to the point, a case in which there is no real center.
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