Tzipi Livni received a potentially fatal blow in her bid to become Israel's prime minister when the ultra-orthodox party Shas announced today it would not join her coalition. Livni, who succeeded Ehud Olmert as leader of the ruling Kadima party last month, has struggled for weeks to build an alliance. The breakdown in talks means that early elections are almost inevitable, reports Haaretz.
Yesterday Livni proclaimed that "decision time has come," and that she would call an election on Sunday if she had not formed a government. Polls suggest that the foreign minister, who has sought to become Israel's second female leader, would lose in a snap election to Benjamin Netanyahu—whose party, Likud, is far more hawkish than Kadima.