|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post|
Bennett: Joining coalition possible despite Livni
By GIL HOFFMAN AND LAHAV HARKOV
Bayit Yehudi head mocks Livni’s ability to reach a deal with Abbas; Yishai holds talks with Lapid, accuses him of leaking meeting.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
on Wednesday to conduct coalition negotiations with his party, despite a deal
made a day earlier with The Tzipi Livni Party.
Bennett came under
pressure from within Bayit Yehudi to shun Netanyahu after the prime minister
broke a campaign promise not to allow Livni to be involved in negotiations with
But in a speech at a Bayit Yehudi convention at the
International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, Bennett
instead sent an olive branch to the man for whom he once served as chief of
“The negotiations are on the prime minister’s shoulder and we want
to give him a hand,” Bennett said. “For decades we were natural
partners. In the campaign, we were blatantly smeared. Something in
our partnership unraveled, but it is not too late to fix it.”
mocked Livni’s ability to reach a deal with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,
since she has nothing to show for her four years of negotiations with the
Palestinians. He accused her of making concessions in Jerusalem and settlement
blocs, allegations Livni immediately denied.
Calling upon Netanyahu to
make his party a real partner, Bennett said it would not be a disaster if Bayit
Yehudi remained in the opposition.
Bennett’s understanding with Yesh Atid
chairman Yair Lapid on joining the coalition together has made it harder for
Netanyahu to build his government. During Bennett’s speech, a heckler accused
Lapid of being a leftist but was immediately hushed.
A senior Likud
source said nothing was stopping Bayit Yehudi from entering the coalition but
itself, and an offer made to it last week to join the government still stands.
The source said the Bayit Yehudi should not see Livni as a reason not to enter
the government, pointing out that the party is aligning itself in coalition
talks with Lapid, who also supported pulling out from the Gaza Strip in 2005,
when he was a columnist and talk show host.
“As it says in the coalition
agreement with The Tzipi Livni Party, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will
stand at the head of a Ministerial Committee for Peace talks that will outline
our policies in diplomatic negotiations,” the source said.
can only complain to itself. They were given an offer to be the first partner in
the Netanyahu government, and in the meantime, they are breaking a clear promise
Instead of joining the Netanyahu government and giving the
national camp a majority, they are sticking with Yesh Atid.”
Eli Yishai spoke with Lapid at the Knesset on Tuesday in a meeting described as
friendly. Yishai angrily accused Lapid of leaking the meeting to the
“Whoever wants to advance change and political cooperation,
especially at this time, must do so at a distance from the eyes of the media,”
In a speech at the Knesset, United Torah Judaism MK Ya’acov
Litzman said other parties have tried and failed to force yeshiva students into
the IDF and Yesh Atid will fail as well.
Netanyahu also met Wednesday
night with Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz.
Both sides said the meeting went
well and they are close to reaching an agreement, but there are still gaps on
key issues, including how to equalize the burden of service.