Barak: Israeli coalition difficult to predict

Barak: What election means for Israel
Barak: What election means for Israel

    JUST WATCHED

    Barak: What election means for Israel

MUST WATCH

Barak: What election means for Israel 03:15

Story highlights

  • Ehud Barak says the effect of the Israeli elections on the peace process is unclear
  • Netanyahu's right-wing bloc has a weakened position after a strong showing from centrists
  • Barak said the left had "not enough courage of conviction" to push for peace

Veteran Israeli politician Ehud Barak says the outcome of the Israel elections are so surprising it is hard to predict the outcome of coalition negotiations.

It remains to be seen whether a new Israeli government will have the political capital to push for a peace deal with Palestinians, he added.

"It's too early to tell," the outgoing deputy prime minister told CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"You know, there's a challenge here," he said. "I personally believe, and I believe the people of my generation strongly believe, that we have to find a way to continue the political process."

Opinion: Split vote offers options to Israeli leaders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to lead the new government, but has emerged from the election in a weakened position, following a surprisingly strong showing by centrists.

Netanyahu's mixed victory in Israel
Netanyahu's mixed victory in Israel

    JUST WATCHED

    Netanyahu's mixed victory in Israel

MUST WATCH

Netanyahu's mixed victory in Israel 02:27
PLAY VIDEO

TV exit polls reported that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Beitenu alliance won between 31 and 33 Knesset seats, more than any other party -- but substantially less than the bloc held in the previous Knesset.

In unexpected outcome, the centrist Yesh Atid party, which campaigned on a platform of helping the middle class and halting military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox civilians, came in second place with at least 18 seats, according to exit polls.

The hard-right Jewish Home, led by the charismatic Naftali Bennett, won between 11 and 12 seats.

Barak, a former prime minister who served as Defence Minister in Netanyahu's government, said was premature to say whether the results would help or hinder the prospects of peace.

"There is a strong feeling with the right ... and there is now not enough courage of conviction on the left side that we have to impose it as reality upon the ...indifference of the party," he said.

"I still believe [peace] is possible someday," he said. "We have to find a way strengthen, to motivate part of the Palestinians, maybe [Palestinian Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad, that want to help build a future empathy."

Netanyahu dips into centrists' playbook for Israel's new government

He said the strength of the next government would depend on what sort of support Netanyahu was able to muster.

"If you establish a right unity government, you create an effective platform to make ... decisions because you have wider support of your own party," he said.

But the result would have no bearing on Israel's ability to adopt a forceful position against Iran's nuclear program.

"The capacity of Israel to act if necessary, even kind of independently, is something that has never been removed from the table and should not be removed from the table."

Barak has said he is leaving politics, and told CNN he would not accept a post in the new government.

"I have already told the public and the prime minister -- many people do not believe, but I don't see a reason for this -- that I'm not going to join. I'm going to leave political life for at least the next five years."

But, he continued, "you never say never." "I cannot refuse to contemplate it, but I don't believe that I'm going to."

Yair Lapid, Israel's man of the 'future'

      World Economic Forum 2013

    • The congress center is pictured on January 22, 2013 at the Swiss resort of Davos. The World Economic Forum (WEF) will take place from 23 to the 27 of January.

      Follow the action in Davos live

      Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.
    • Cameron: Focus on trade, transparency

      Free trade, transparency and a crackdown on tax cheats will be at the heart of Britain's G8 presidency, Prime Minister David Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
    • Boris enters UK-EU debate

      The mayor of London says a controversial vote for the British people whether to stay in the European Union is all part of democracy.
    • davos quest olli rehn finance EU_00034014.jpg

      Rehn: No need for UK to leave EU

      A top European Union official says there's no need for Britain to make threats to leave the union in order to reform its membership.
    • Kenya: No negotiation with terrorists

      Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says his country will not negotiate with al Qaeda-linked Somali militants who have threatened to kill Kenyan hostages unless Nairobi releases all Muslims charged with terrorism.
    • marketplace europe davos fabrice bregier airbus_00002524.jpg

      Airbus: We will learn from mistakes

      The head of Airbus says the European aviation giant will take care to learn from its own mistakes -- and rival Boeing's -- ahead of the launch of its new widebody A350 aircraft.
    • To go with China-Environment-Climate-Rivers by Robert Saiget Ice melts in the source region of China's Yellow River outside of Maduo on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, known as the 'Roof of the World', on April 19, 2010, in northwestern Qinghai province. Global warming and environmental degradation on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau are cutting into water resources for Asia's mightiest rivers including the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong, experts say, as melting glaciers and permafrost along the mountain ranges are leading to erosion of the plateau's grasslands and wetlands. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

      Can this be a game-changer on climate?

      As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.
    • Europe 'wasting' generation

      The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.
    • US tycoon Donald Trump (C) is escorted by Scottish pipers as he officially opens his new multi-million pound Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on July 10, 2012.

      Trump: Europe is open for business

      What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.
    • Tourists enjoy the summer on the main beach of Croatia's central Adriatic resort of Dubrovnik on June 27, 2009.

      Is Croatia ready to join EU

      On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?