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Center-Left bloc erupts in internal war
By GIL HOFFMAN
01/07/2013
Yacimovich, Lapid slam Livni for presenting "false version" of tripartite meeting, claim they were used for Livni's political spin.
 
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid ganged up on former foreign minister Tzipi Livni on Monday, complaining that her efforts to unite the Center-Left bloc were really intended to build up her party at their expense.

Yacimovich and Lapid released a joint statement attacking Livni, after she blamed them for the fact that no cooperation resulted from a late-night meeting between the three of them. They said Livni presented a false account of what had happened in the meeting.

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“We came to the meeting out of mutual respect, despite our many ideological differences,” Yacimovich and Lapid said. “We were shocked to discover that we were merely the backdrop for a well-thought-out spin campaign lacking any truth and substance.

It is now clear that the meeting was a desperate political trick by Livni, whose party is deteriorating in the polls.”

A Dialog poll broadcast on Channel 10 revealed that The Tzipi Livni Party had fallen to only seven seats, well below the 17 predicted for Labor and 11 for Yesh Atid. Likud Beytenu rose in the poll for the first time in a month, climbing back to 35 mandates.

Yacimovich and Lapid said Livni prevented a Center-Left bloc from being formed before the parties’ candidate lists were submitted, and now she continues making mistakes, causing rifts and harming efforts to create a proper alternative to an extremist government.

Livni released a fierce response, accusing them of rejecting any possible proposal and preferring to malign her rather than cooperate for the good of the public.

“Their violent and unnecessary statement unfortunately shows they coordinated their stances before and after the meeting to prevent the worrisome truth from coming out: They are playing a personal game for their own narrow interests instead of supporting the only plan that can give hope to the public,” Livni said.

The plan Livni proposed at the meeting, which took place at Lapid’s mother’s house in Tel Aviv, entailed forming a joint campaign against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of the election and after the race, insisting on all three parties either joining the coalition or remaining in the opposition.

“We should force Netanyahu to either form a national unity government with all our parties on the basis of what we believe in or a narrow, right-wing extremist government that will not last,” Livni said. “Unfortunately, we did not reach an agreement, but I don’t intend to give up.”

Yacimovich blasted Livni for not ruling out joining a Netanyahu-led government as Labor has. She said that if Labor gets 25 mandates, President Shimon Peres could ask her to form the government instead of Netanyahu.

Lapid said that although he would bring Yesh Atid into the coalition if another centrist party joined, he was willing to go to the opposition.

He noted that under the leadership of his father, former justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, the Shinui party rose from six to 15 seats after sitting in the opposition.

The party seen as most likely to join a Netanyahu-led government together with Yesh Atid is Kadima, which the Dialog poll predicted would pass the electoral threshold. Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said he would not rule out joining the government.

“National unity governments are important,” Mofaz said. “We will do what is best for Israel.”

A Kadima spokesman, meanwhile, accused Livni of “scandalously strengthening Netanyahu at the Center- Left’s expense.” He said only Kadima could have have a moderating effect on the next coalition if it is formed by Netanyahu.

Despite the failure of the Center- Left to unite on Monday, Netanyahu warned that there would continue to be efforts to prevent his election. Speaking to the Russian-language press, he accused the haredi parties of conspiring with the Center- Left to prevent him from forming a government after the election.

Arye Deri, co-chairman of Shas, mocked Netanyahu’s accusation, calling it “an unsuccessful attempt at humor.” He said that at least Netanyahu stopped short of accusing him of participating in the late-night meeting of Yacimovich, Lapid and Livni.

But Interior Minister Eli Yishai, another of Shas’s three leaders, appeared to confirm Netanyahu’s accusation in an interview with Udi Segal on Channel 2’s program Election Campaign.

“I want Livni and Lapid to join a Netanyahu-led government together with Shas,” Yishai said. “Having them in the government will help Israel avoid international pressure.”
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