Herzog and Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A national unity government cannot be brokered with the Zionist Union because its chairman, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, has not been able to persuade enough of his MKs to join, coalition chairman David Bitan said on Wednesday.
Likud sources said that Netanyahu would be quite happy if the Zionist Union entered the government because a wider coalition would make it easier to pass the state budget after the Knesset returns from its extended summer and holiday recess on October 31.
The sources said Netanyahu also wanted Herzog in the government ahead of the period between the November 8 US election and the January 20 swearing in of the next American president.
That period has been problematic for Israel in the past when steps were taken against Israel’s wishes by the Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations.
In interviews he granted the Hebrew media following his speech at the United Nations two weeks ago, Netanyahu said he hoped US president Barack Obama’s administration would not take such steps during that time period.
In those interviews, the prime minister said he had not discussed widening with the government with Herzog recently. But Netanyahu added in the interviews that “changes in the region should make Herzog want to join.”
The deal that Netanyahu offered Herzog in May guaranteed that he would become foreign minister and chair a regional peace conference.
The Zionist Union would be given seven other portfolios, according to a Channel 10 report, including the Culture and Sports Ministry.
The report said current Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev would be compensated for losing her post by being made Intelligence Services Minister, a post currently held by Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who has sparred recently with Netanyahu.
The holder of the portfolio is automatically a member of the security cabinet.
Even though he has denied the reports that coalition talks have been rekindled, Herzog faced criticism Wednesday from MKs in his faction. MKs Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel, Hilik Bar, Erel Margalit, Itzik Shmuli and Miki Rosenthal all said they would remain in the opposition, even if Herzog entered the government.
“I am sure that less than half of our faction would join,” Rosenthal said. “It would bad for the party and bad for the country.”
But Labor MK Eitan Broshi said more and more MKs in his faction were realizing that entering the coalition was essential for the party and the country “We need to disconnect from the delusional Left, and if we join, we can help Netanyahu disconnect from the extreme Right,” Broshi said.
“Those who care for Israel’s interests need to put their interests aside and allow decisive historical decisions.”