Kadima officials call for national unity gov't

Likud and Israel Beiteinu MKs dismiss calls, stating that the will of the people clearly indicates that Olmert should step down.

olmert cabinet 224.88 (photo credit: )
olmert cabinet 224.88
(photo credit: )
Key officials in the Kadima Party voiced support for a national unity government Tuesday, amid increased speculation over security threats that Israel might be facing in the North and around the Gaza Strip. MK Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called on Tuesday morning for a national unity government, citing the need for a "strong cohesive government to combat the threats to this country." A national unity government would see most of the current factions in the Knesset come together under the leadership of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Likud and Israel Beiteinu MKs dismissed the calls for a national unity government, stating that the will of the people clearly indicated that Olmert should step down from office and new elections should be held. "There is absolutely no point of unity between us and Kadima...to come together on," said Likud faction whip Gideon Sa'ar. Although Kadima represents itself as a centrist party, the current government's position "could just as well be Meretz," added Sa'ar. There have been several calls for a national unity government since the 17th Knesset was elected nearly two years ago. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik has also called for a national unity government, both during and following the war in 2006. On Tuesday, Itzik addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations. Itzik defended the government's stance on several key security issues, including the ongoing rocket attacks on Gaza periphery communities and Iran's nuclear weapons program. "It is our right and our moral duty to protect the people of Sderot and of the surrounding kibbutzim whose lives are at risk, and those of every town and village in Israel," said Itzik. "To do this, Israel will act with all the force needed, wherever it is needed, as much as is needed and against whoever it must be carried out." Itzik added that both nuclear weapons and long-range missiles presented a strategic threat not only to Israel, but to Europe and the United States. "A nuclear Iran will not be more restrained than the fanatical Iran of today. Non-conventional weapons in the hands of a non-conventional regime represent a clear and immediate danger for us all," said Itzik.