Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said Thursday that the party had decided unanimously not to join a government coalition led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu under any circumstances."There are only two options, either the Labor Party will lead the government or Labor will lead the opposition against the government," Yacimovich said at a press conference.Last month, Yacimovich refused to rule out joining Netanyahu’s government after the January 22 election, but said chances she will be part of the coalition are slim.“We cannot reject a scenario in which the Labor Party will be very big, and Netanyahu will become a peace-loving social democrat,” she said. “Of course, this is an imaginary scenario, but no party is making a sweeping, total commitment [not to join a Netanyahu-led government] other than Meretz, and I respect them for it.”Yacimovich stated that Likud had undergone a process of radicalization in recent weeks and that the party no longer resembles the traditional Likud."I felt respect over the years for this party. But this is no longer the Likud that we know. It's [Likud candidate Moshe] Feiglin from one side and [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman on the other side. They have undergone radicalization in every area," Yacimovich stated.The party released a statement prior to Yacimovich's press conference, saying that, "Following the recent escalation and radicalization in the Likud Beytenu's positions in all of the fields - economic and social, diplomatic and security, the rule of law and democracy - the Labor party remains the only alternative to changing the leadership and will not sit in Netanyahu's government," the party said in a statement."The Labor party is determined to fight to change the leadership, and will make every effort to lead a coalition that will be an alternative to the extreme Right government that is forming, sponsored by the competition between [Bayit Yehudi leader] Bennett and Netanyahu-Liberman on who is more extreme," the party said. Yacimovich stated that her decision was based on the new government enacting "the cruelest budget cuts ever that will create a social hell," as well as a radicalization on the diplomatic front, with Likud candidates advocating "transfer" and the "annexation of Judea and Samaria."She also expressed outrage that Netanyahu was reserving the role of foreign minister for the "corrupt" Avigdor Liberman, despite the indictment against him.
Former Labor leader Amir Peretz left the party in December, citing disagreements with Yacimovich over her refusal to announce before the election that she will not join a Netanyahu-led government.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.