While the make-up of the next government remains a question mark in Israel, it appears that the United States and the European Union have already weighed in with a clear preference for a unity government that includes Kadima and Likud.
The U.S. official position is that it looks forward to “working with any government,” but in back-channel messages the Obama administration has made it clear it would like to see a unity government in Jerusalem over a narrow right-wing government which would in all likelihood result in a freeze in peace talks with the Palestinians.
Aides to Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Friday that Washington officials did indeed relay the message while associates of Kadima chief Tzipi Livni denied receiving such a message.
Officially, the State Department said the coalitional line-up is an internal Israeli matter with which Washington does not involve itself.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief says a new unity government of Israel’s Kadima and Likud political parties would help Mideast peace talks.
EU official Javier Solana says an Israeli government led by Netanyahu would be more difficult for the peace process.
In the most likely scenario for a unity government, Netanyahu would be prime minister while Kadima would hold ministries such as finance, defense or foreign affairs.
Solana also said Friday in Washington that there could be a deal within 48 hours between Israel and Hamas on a long-term cease-fire in Gaza. Egypt is mediating the talks.