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Controversial hawk joins Israeli coalition
Cat : Palestine
Date : 2006-10-24 18:27:52                      Reader : 293

world criticized Israel government, because it is the democracy logic. Meanwhile Palestinians are demanded to work against democracy logic by eliminating government of majority for the sake of Israel demand!! Palestine factions should work hand in hand under democracy rule. President Abbas and government should work together to break through the besiege of their country. A government of unity is urgent that respects programs of all within fundamental goals of Palestine people.

Google .com 24/10/2006

Controversial hawk joins Israeli coalition

Special to The Globe and Mail

JERUSALEM -- Centrist Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert forged an unlikely alliance yesterday with the hard-line Yisrael Beiteinu party, saving his coalition government but also tilting it decidedly to the right.

Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, is known as a political bruiser, a former bouncer who overcame his hardscrabble past to win a coveted place in the Knesset.

His fans say he is a strong leader who acts on his convictions. Critics call him a racist who wants to force Arabs out of Israel.

But to the PM, Mr. Lieberman was the key to his political survival. And the support of his party was seen as the only thing that could save Mr. Olmert's government from collapse.

"We are joining the government," Mr. Lieberman said with a broad smile, after striking the deal to add his hawkish party's support to the centre-left coalition.

The Prime Minister said he would make Mr. Lieberman, 48, his deputy in charge of "strategic threats," a new portfolio that would include monitoring Iran's nuclear program and security in the Palestinian territories.

"It's a terrible risk," political scientist Menachem Hofnung said.

"This might give Olmert the stability he wants in the Knesset, but what about the wider stability of the region?" asked Prof. Hofnung, who teaches at Hebrew University.

Mr. Lieberman has traditionally drawn his political support from Israel's conservative Soviet immigrants. During last March's election, Russian voters flocked to Mr. Lieberman, who was born in Moldova and immigrated to Israel in 1978.

The burly, bald-headed politician goes by the unlikely nickname "Yvette" and still speaks with a Russian accent. His tough talk appeals to his core constituents, but has also been branded racist and fascist.

He has advocated the bombing of major Palestinian cities and called for the execution of Hamas politicians. His proposal to trade large swaths of Israel populated by Israeli Arabs in exchange for retaining Jewish-majority parts of the West Bank has been compared to ethnic cleansing. Mr. Lieberman founded Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 and served as a cabinet minister in 2001 and 2003 before quitting in protest against Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

He also objected to Mr. Olmert's plans for further pullouts from the West Bank. When the votes were counted in the last election, his party managed to garner only 11 seats.

But as opposition in Israel swelled last summer over Mr. Olmert's handling of the war in Lebanon, the Prime Minister's coalition with the Labour Party began to fray.

By reaching out to Mr. Lieberman and his party yesterday, Mr. Olmert was able to widen his government's majority in the Knesset to a comfortable 79 of 120 seats and cement his rule, which was threatened by internal dissent with Labour.

The Prime Minister stressed the direction of his government would not change. That hasn't quelled concerns from critics.

"This is a deal with the devil," said Yossi Beilin, leader of the dovish Meretz Party. "He is betraying the trust of the people who elected him on a centrist platform," he said.

So far, Mr. Lieberman has refrained from making the kind of controversial political statements that have previously landed him in hot water.

"He's been very cagey. But when the time is right, he will demand hard-line action and then things will get messy," predicted Amotz Asa-el, an Israeli analyst.

The new coalition is expected to receive parliamentary approval in the coming days. But with three different parties wearing such wildly different political stripes, there are no guarantees it will hold.

"This won't last long," Mr. Asa-el said. "The fact that we find ourselves in this situation less than seven months after elections goes to show that in Israel, nothing ever does."

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