Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh told Kol Israel this morning that with the new coalition deal “Bibi has given his consent and commitment that he will be taking several historical steps: legislation to insure an equal share of the burden [code for Haredi conscription] by July; and by December introduce a change in the system of government. Those two things, plus negotiations with the Palestinians, are the principles that Kadima has insisted on.”
Tirosh added cheerfully: “If all this is accomplished, it will be the best government in history.”
President Shimon Peres – a staunch advocate of the two-state solution – congratulated Netanyahu when the latter called to updated him on his intent to establish a unity government, and told Netanyahu a national unity government is good for Israel.
Ultra-Orthodox parties appeared sledge-hammered this morning, as it is becoming clear that a major goal of the revamped government is to rewrite the “Tal Law” regulating Haredi military service, and to radically increase the percentage of young Haredi men being conscripted.
In addition, the government will have to introduce deficit-cutting budget legislation, which will have the most adverse effect on Israel’s poor – mostly Arabs and Haredim. Even if the Haredi factions remain in a Likud-Kadima juggernaut coalition, their ability to extract concessions will be severely curtailed.
It was curious, then, when Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai was quick to express his approval of the new deal. Likewise Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who on Saturday had announced that his party no longer had an interest in staying in this coalition, released a statement in support of the deal which, effectively, turns him into a fifth wheel in Netanyahu’s shiny new vehicle.
One MK who tried to turn her lemons into lemonade was Labor Party Chairperson Shelly Yachimovich, who became the new Knesset opposition leader following Mofaz’s entry into the coalition government. Acknowledging this was a “dirty deal for the ages,” Yechmovitch said, “In view of the final burial of Kadima, Labor is being given a rare and important opportunity to lead the opposition, which we will do with energy and conviction.”