Netanyahu Stuns, Forges New Government

Broad coalition could push progress on Iran, Palestinians
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2012 6:52 AM CDT
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz hold a joint press conference announcing the new coalition government, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 8, 2012.   (Sebastian Scheiner)
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(Newser) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a revamped coalition government today, forming a broad alliance with the chief opposition party that could free his hand to take bold action on peace with the Palestinians and decide whether to attack Iran. In a stunning reversal, Netanyahu called off plans to hold early parliamentary elections and struck an agreement with the rival Kadima Party. Netanyahu now presides over a coalition with 94 seats in the 120-member parliament, one of the broadest governments in Israeli history.

Netanyahu and Kadima's leader, Shaul Mofaz, said their alliance would bring much-needed stability to Israeli politics. They promised close cooperation on Iran and expressed hope that long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians would resume. Unable to bridge differences with his current coalition, Netanyahu announced yesterday he would push for early elections in September, more than a year ahead of schedule. But in an overnight deal that stunned the nation, he instead joined forces with Kadima. "When I learned that a very broad government can be established, I realized that stability can be restored," Netanyahu said, adding that "I hope that President Abbas will take advantage of this opportunity." Netanyahu also promised "serious and responsible" talks on Iran with Mofaz, a former military leader who would lend credibility to any decision to strike.

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