Kadima Party chair and PM-designate Tzipi Livni has called on the country’s president to call early elections, saying, “I refuse to pawn Israel’s future for the prime minister’s chair.”
The comment is a reference to the high demands made by Shas (as noted here at F&V on Friday) and now another religious party, United Torah Judaism, as Livni has attempted to build a coalition. Both parties clearly gambled that now was the time to bargain from strength, on the (justifiable, given polling) assumption that Livni, who just took over her own party’s leadership, would not be ready to face the electorate.
Livni also said, “There are others who are willing to pay any price, but I am not willing to sell the state and its citizens only to become the prime minister,” suggesting that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu would meet the demands of Shas if he were to become PM.
The Pensionsers Party has also rejected a coalition proposal. Without at least one of these parties, a viable coalition centered on Kadima and Labor is unlikely. Thus elections could be held as early as February.
This also means that Ehud Olmert remains PM in the meantime.