Livni and Barak agree to meet Netanyahu again after spurning his unity offer

Binyamin Netanyahu chose Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, followed by Labor’s Ehud Barak, for kicking off his negotiations with party leaders for the formation of a broad government coalition after he was designated for the task by president Shimon Peres Friday, Feb. 20.
Both turned him down at their first interviews but agreed to talk again.
While Labor is solidly behind Barak’s decision to go into opposition, Livni could not afford to shut the door because, contrary to the general impression conveyed in public statements, her Kadima party is on the point of revolt. They are eager to take up the top jobs on offer rather than joining her “fighting opposition.”
Binyamin Netanyahu chose Kadima’s Tzipi Livni for kicking off his negotiations with party leaders for the formation of a broad government coalition after he was designated for the task by president Shimon Peres Friday, Feb. 20.
Netanyahu, for his part, believes that with Kadima in the bag, Labor’s leader, Ehud Barak, if not the entire faction, will jump aboard. He therefore started his coalition negotiations with Kadima and Labor before approaching the right-of-center and religious parties which endorsed him.
Those parties, including Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Israel Beitenu, anyway encouraged the Likud leader to go for unity.
Transport minister Shaul Mofaz heads a large group of Kadima rebels against Livni who want to join a national unity government. He hopes to snare the defense ministry in the new administration. Others may publicly support their leader but are fighting behind the scenes to keep their jobs.
They include Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzkik, Chairman of the powerful Knesset foreign affairs and security committee, Tzahi Hanegbi, and three cabinet members Haim Ramon, Avi Dichter and Ruhama Avraham.
Livni is accused of being guided by her campaign advisers Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad instead of listening to party stalwarts. Adler and Arad tell her that, without Kadima, the Netanyahu administration will not survive long, an early election is inevitable and Livni will then achieve a convincing victory.
In his acceptance speech, Netanyahu appealed to Likud’s rivals to set their differences aside in view of the formidable dangers threatening the country, a nuclear-armed Iran, which was the direst peril confronting Israel since its War of Independence, and a major world economic crisis which could cost hundreds of thousands of Israelis their livelihood.
If Livni and Barak opt for the opposition after all, Netanyahu remains with a 65-deputy majority in the 120-member Knesset. He can defend his right-of-center administration by proving he went all-out to modify it, but the centrists and left preferred their narrow calculations to the national interest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Font Resize
Contrast