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Sparring Center-Left divided ahead of deadline
By GIL HOFFMAN
05/12/2012
Talks between representatives of the parties are expected to continue until Thursday's 10pm deadline.
 
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni failed to make progress toward bringing their parties together Wednesday on the eve of Thursday’s deadline for parties to submit their lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee.

Talks between representatives of the parties are expected to continue until Thursday’s 10 p.m. deadline. But officials in all three parties expressed deep skepticism that the negotiations would succeed.

“[Yacimovich and Lapid] invited me to join their party, but I want to join forces in a real way, not just to get a job and bring more mandates to a party,” Livni said at a Tel Aviv press conference. “It’s still not too late. We can lead an alternative to the premiership in several ways. My offer is still on the table for both of them and they know where to find me.”

Livni revealed that in her talks with Yacimovich, she insisted on a rotation for the premiership if their joint list won the election. A similar demand by Livni prevented a national-unity government from being formed when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed the current coalition in March 2009.

“From Shelly Yacimovich I got three nos: no to an official merger, no to adding additional people, no to a rotation,” Livni said. “From Yair Lapid, to whom I proposed only a combined list, I got one big no.”

Yacimovich said Wednesday that her offer to Livni to join Labor still stands. Labor postponed by a day its central committee meeting that had been scheduled to take place Wednesday in case a joint list was formed that required approval.

“Twenty-four hours are left to submit candidate lists,” Yacimovich told Channel 10.

“As far as I’m concerned, until the last minute Livni can respond to my offer and join us.”

Army Radio reported on Wednesday that Labor’s decision to postpone its convention to Thursday was made in order to give more time to ongoing discussions about the possible formation of a Left- Center bloc.

Yacimovich said a rotation was not an option, because Labor is a democratically elected party.

Lapid, whose party already submitted its candidate list to the Central Elections Committee, blasted Livni, saying that her image had been irrevocably harmed by her attempts to rob the coffers of Kadima when she drafted seven MKs from her former party.

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Channel 1 reported that The Tzipi Livni Party’s top five candidates would be Livni, former Labor leader Amram Mitzna, Israel Space Agency head Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, former Tel Aviv Police District Commander David Tzur and MK Meir Sheetrit. Former minister Rabbi Michael Melchior would be eighth on the list according to the report.

A Dialog poll broadcast Wednesday on Channel 10 found that if elections were held now, Labor would win 20 seats, The Tzipi Livni Party nine and Yesh Atid seven.

Their combined total was less than the 37 seats predicted for the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu joint list.
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