Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck a surprise deal with the opposition Kadima party, avoiding the early general election he had sought for September.
Kadima’s recently-elected leader, Shaul Mofaz, is set to be named Israel Deputy Prime Minister.
P.M. Netanyahu announced the new Israeli coalition was formed because of their shared deep-seated desire for a “responsible” peace process with the Palestinians and “serious” talks about Iran’s nuclear program.
The coalition will be one of the biggest in Israeli history with a majority of 94.
“Good for the people of Israel,” President Shimon Peres said.
The new coalition will govern until the end of the Knesset’s current term in October 2013 and will give Israel more “stability.” According to an outline of the coalition deal, Mr. Mofaz will be appointed deputy prime minister and made a member of the Security Cabinet and Mr. Netanyahu’s inner circle, previously known as the “Forum of Eight.” Kadima will also chair four powerful parliamentary committees, including foreign affairs and defense.
The new coalition also got a commitment to restart the Middle East peace talks in earnest and support for changes to the so-called Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students to defer military conscription.
“Up until a few days ago I was told that I wanted elections in order to escape the budget, the Tal Law, and the toughest questions facing Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “And here were are together… saying we’re pulling together for four main issues – pass a fair and equal distribution of the national burden that would replace the Tal Law; passing a responsible budget; bringing about a change in the system of governance; and, lastly, to try and promote a responsible peace process.”
Mr. Netanyahu did not talk about a freeze on Jewish settlement construction, but did state, “I hope that President Abbas will take advantage of this opportunity.”
The prime minister also promised “serious and responsible” talks on Iran.
“There are moments in a leader’s life in which he has to take decisions that have a personal significance,” he added. “The time has come to change the agenda. This is a move of unity which is important to Israel’s future.”
Mr. Netanyahu must be credited with leading one of the world’s most stable governments of recent times and being bold enough to do what needs to be done.