February 20, 2009 | 1:19 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Is anyone else having an impossible time following the aftermath of the Israeli election? I know of no other country where the real campaigning begins after the race is over.
Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to his moderate rivals Friday to join him after the hard-liner was formally tapped to put together Israel’s next ruling coalition — an alliance that would dilute the power of nationalists bent on derailing Mideast peace talks.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in a seeming about-face, indicated she might be willing to come on board a Netanyahu government.
But Livni, a centrist, would certainly exact a high price: sharing the prime minister’s job she so fervently sought with a reluctant Netanyahu. Should he balk, his alternative would be an unstable coalition of right-wingers sure to collide with the Obama administration and its ambitious plans for ending 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu urged Livni of the governing Kadima Party and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party to join his government.
“I call on the members of all the factions ... to set politics aside and put the good of the nation at the center,” Netanyahu said during a low-key ceremony at the president’s residence in Jerusalem.
Friday’s decision by Israel’s ceremonial president, Shimon Peres, to tap Netanyahu ended days of speculation and gave Netanyahu six weeks to put together a ruling coalition.
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