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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel significantly expanded his power on Tuesday, creating the largest and broadest coalition government in recent memory. “I think Prime Minister Netanyahu has been determined since he got elected to re-establish a very strong political center in Israel,” said Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and an adviser to Mr. Netanyahu during his first term as prime minister, in the 1990s. “What does it mean to be in the center? It means willing to make compromises to ensure peace, but at the same time insisting that any arrangement you make has a large security component.”
Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister, said the new coalition would be able to “contend better with the challenges facing Israel,” including “a historic territorial compromise with our Palestinian neighbors.” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, chief spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the new coalition could present new opportunities – but in the next breath reiterated the positions about settlements, borders and Jerusalem that have been stumbling blocks in the past. (Jodi Rudoren – New York Times)