May 8 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a coalition government with the centrist Kadima Party that helps him avoid early elections. Lindsey Parietti reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulls out a last-minute coalition deal to avoid early elections. The PM announced a unity government with the centrist Kadima Party that was put in place during a meeting overnight. Netanyahu's party heralded the agreement, which gives the coalition 94 of parliament's 120 seats. But opposition leaders called the deal corrupt and a conspiracy. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) SHELLY YACHIMOVICH, LABOUR PARTY LEADER, SAYING: "In the last 24 hours we witnessed the most contemptible and preposterous zigzag ever to be seen in Israel's political history. No one will forget this conspiracy, it will be remembered forever and be mentioned in the politics books used in universities. It will bite back those who executed it." The coalition deal also took local residents by surprise. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) AVI KIMCHI, RESIDENT OF JERUSALEM, SAYING: "It's a surprise. They are supposed to set an example for the citizens, they are selling themselves for a seat and all to be in government. I'm very very surprised but if Bibi (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) made such a move and was able to convince them, congratulations". With plans for early elections on hold, Netanyahu now has more latitude to push his agenda, including potential strikes on Iran over its nuclear program. Lindsey Parietti, Reuters