Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu arrived Friday morning at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, where President Shimon Peres granted him a 14-day extension in order to form his government. Netanyahu expressed his hope that "all leaders will reconsider the offer to form a wide national unity government".
The Likud leader is currently in the midst of a campaign aimed at convincing members of the Labor Party to join his coalition. Labor Chairman Ehud Barak plans to bring the matter to the party's Central Committee on Tuesday.
(…)Netanyahu told Peres at the start of the meeting, "I could have presented a government to you and to the people of Israel by Sunday, but I chose to ask you for the extension in order to exert every effort which will lead to a national unity government as I promised Israel's citizens in the election campaign.
The prime minister-designate said his opinion on the matter had become stronger following his meetings with the General Staff and heads of the economy. "We are facing difficult threats and an economic crisis. I hope all the leaders reconsider the offer to form a national unity government and put aside any personal and party-related consideration," he said. President Peres replied, "I have a lot of appreciation for your efforts to form a wide government. It's sensible. As for the State's situation, I fully share your opinion."
I admit to being conflicted watching Bibi Netanyahu struggle to form a coalition government. I am frustrated at his obtuseness and irresponsibility for leaving Israelis so long without a government in charge at the Knesset. If he would have just taken the natural coalition the majority of Israelis voted for and making it his government, it would have been over and done with weeks ago, but no, he has to invest so much time and resources into paying court to Labor and Kadima whose policies the majority of Israelis rejected.
And on the other hand, I feel sorry for him as he seems to lead a party he obviously wishes didn’t have the make-up it does and he seems to hold his natural coalition partners in such obvious contempt. If anyone should have jumped the Likud ship for Kadima - it should have been Bibi. I cannot help holding the nagging suspicion that if Bibi’s leadership aspirations weren’t blighted by Ariel Sharon and cronies; he would have jumped. Bibi may well find himself - as the Likud leader most likely to face a revolt from his party’s membership.