Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is prepared to make a substantial offer to
bring The Tzipi Livni Party into his coalition as a senior partner if
negotiations with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid do not bear fruit, senior Likud sources
said following talks with Livni’s associates on Monday.
formed his coalition in 2009, he held direct talks that did not bear fruit with
Livni on bringing Kadima’s 28 MKs into the coalition. The portfolios Netanyahu
intended to give Kadima instead went to Labor, which had 13 MKs, and remained
with the Independence Party when it broke off, even though it had only
“We understand that in a situation where Lapid does not join, the
price we will have to pay to enable Livni joining the coalition will be
relatively high,” a senior Likud official said.
The talk of overpaying
Livni to enter the coalition despite her faction having only six MKs came after
Yesh Atid issued demands that Likud officials called unrealistic.
sources said a likely scenario would be a 69-MK coalition with the Tzipi Livni
Party, Kadima, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, and United Torah Judaism.
A Likud MK
suggested that “it might be better to have Livni on her knees than Lapid on a
The MK said Lapid might speak more modestly and lower his price
after “a year of drought in the desert of the opposition.”
reported Monday night that Netanyahu and his No. 2 on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list, Avigdor Liberman, had maintained a direct connection
with Livni since the January 22 election. The report said Netanyahu’s recent
statements on diplomatic issues were aimed at enticing Livni into the
An official response by Livni’s spokeswoman called the report
“rumors and political spin” and said there were direct connections since the
election with leaders of many parties, not just Netanyahu.
associates expressed concern that Netanyahu might have leaked the report in
order to use Livni to lower the price of Lapid.
“For Tzipi, what matters
is the essence of whether she will be given true freedom to advance the
diplomatic process,” a source close to her said. “She has one issue, unlike
Lapid who has many, but she won’t join the government unless she deems
Netanyahu’s intentions on the peace process to be truly genuine. It’s too soon
to say concretely that Netanyahu is more serious than before. Maybe it’s just
camouflage and pyrotechnics.”
Representatives of The Tzipi Livni Party
came to Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah for coalition talks on Monday. A source on
Livni’s negotiating team said after the meeting that they had an impression that
Likud had a problem with Lapid and therefore would have to make gestures to
Livni not on portfolios but on diplomatic progress and letting her lead peace
talks with the Palestinians.
One way of proving Netanyahu’s intentions
could be in announcing steps toward the Palestinians when US Secretary of State
John Kerry visits Israel in two weeks, or when the prime minister is expected to
go to Washington in the first week of March.
A senior party source
explained that, with only six seats, Livni’s party must keep promises based on
its central issue, or it will die in the next election.
whether this means the party is demanding Livni be foreign minister, her party’s
chief negotiator, former Prime Minister’s Office director- general Yossi Kucik
said they are not discussing portfolios yet.
“We won’t be a fig leaf for
a rightwing coalition,” Kucik added.
Likud Beytenu negotiations team
leader attorney David Shimron summed up two days of negotiations on Monday
evening by saying he was instructed by Netanyahu to build the widest coalition
“There are many ways to do this, and we will work on it in the
coming days,” Shimron stated. “There are gaps, and we will work [to bridge
Likud Beytenu representatives also met Monday teams from Kadima
and United Torah Judaism.
Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson described the talks
and the Likud Beytenu team as “pleasant,” and said Kadima’s position is
essentially the same as it was when it joined the coalition last May, with an
emphasis on equality in the burden of service and electoral reform.
leaders Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni expressed
optimism on their way out of talks.
“It was a good talk,” Gafni
“We were in the coalition with [Likud Beytenu] for four years, so
we feel at home,” adding that it is hard to know what will happen as talks
“We’re loyal coalition partners who don’t make problems, which
is why we expect Likud Beytenu to deal with issues that are hard for them, in
order to keep us,” Litzman added, in reference to issues of haredi
A Bayit Yehudi official denied reports that his party had
formed a bloc with Yesh Atid and would enter the coalition or opposition
A source close to MK Uri Ariel, who is leading the Bayit Yehudi
negotiating team, also called the report an exaggeration, saying, “We’re not
going to the opposition just because Lapid doesn’t get what he
Still, the source said that the two parties coordinated stances
on issues like lowering the number of ministers in the government, what should
be cut in the upcoming budget and decreasing the defecit. In addition, the
source explained, both sides hope to see more haredim enlist in the IDF or do
national service, but have different ideas about how to go about
Ariel met with UTJ MK Meir Porush Monday night.
talks are set for Tuesday, due to the swearing-in ceremony for the 19th Knesset,
which will take place Tuesday afternoon. But informal talks will take place
among the leaders of all the parties, including a meeting between Netanyahu and
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich.
Netanyahu called the heads of Arab
factions Monday and told them that even though none of them would join the
coalition, he still intended to help their constituencies.
leader MK Muhammad Barakei said he was not impressed by the call.
light of the Hadash party’s political, economic and social standing, we
represent a political position opposite that of the government, and will
therefore act as an actively fighting opposition,” Barakei said on the party’s