Jerusalem: In a dramatic move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday cancelled early general elections after clinching a surprise deal with the main opposition Kadima party to form the largest-ever coalition government, which he said would advance peace talks with the Palestinians.
The deal to include the centrist Kadima party was announced a day after Netanyahu called for snap polls in September this year.
The surprise pact with the main opposition party would give Netanyahu an overwhelming majority in parliament for possible strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu told reporters at a joint conference with Kadima party's newly elected chairman Shaul Mofaz that the new unity government would bring "stability" to Israel.
But Labour party leader, Shelly Yacimovich, a former scribe who would now be appointed the opposition leader, slammed the move as "an alliance of cowards," and the "most ridiculous zig-zag in Israel's political history, which no one will ever forget".
Defending his move, the Israeli premier said, "From the very beginning I wanted to continue to (the original date of the) elections, and when I saw that that stability was being undone I went for (early) elections."
"I jumped at the opportunity" to create the "widest government in Israel's history," Netanyahu said.
He also addressed those criticising the deal, saying "Until a few days ago, I was told that I wanted elections in order to escape the budget, the Tal Law, and the toughest questions facing Israel."
Both the leaders said with the inclusion of Kadima, the 94-seat coalition would be the largest in the nation's history and would be invaluable in achieving "historic" solutions to all outstanding problems, including Palestine issue.
First Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 12:36