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Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi deny forming unity bloc
By LAHAV HARKOV
02/04/2013
Party sources give lukewarm response to reports they plan to enter coalition or opposition together; say reports "exaggerated."
 
Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi sources gave lukewarm responses to reports that the two formed a bloc and will go enter the coalition or opposition together.

A Yesh Atid strategist said she isn't denying the Ma'ariv report, but that it's "exaggerated." 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 wants." Still, the source 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 deficit.

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 it.

Meanwhile, Likud Beytenu negotiations team leader attorney David Shimron summed up two days of negotiations on Monday evening by saying he was instructed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to build the widest coalition possible.

"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 them]." UTJ leaders Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni expressed optimism on their way out of talks in Kfar Hamaccabia in Ramat Gan Monday.

"It was a good talk. We were in the coalition with [Likud Beytenu] for four years, so we feel at home," Gafni explained, adding that it's hard to know what will happen as talks continue.

"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 enlistment.

The Tzipi Livni Party said its place in the coalition or opposition depends on whether the party is allowed to lead peace talks with the Palestinians.

A senior party source explained that, with only six seats, the party must keep promises based on its central issue, or it will die in the next election.

When asked whether this means the party is demanding Livni be Foreign Minister, 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 right-wing coalition," Kucik added.

"At the end of the day, the make-up of the coalition influences the government's agenda," MK Yoel Hasson stated.

Kadima was represented by attorney Yossi Gelhardt and MK Yisrael Hasson.

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.
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