Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speaks to the press in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset will dissolve itself and finalize a March 17 election on Monday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of forming a new coalition that could have prevented the election from taking place.
Netanyahu’s associates denied a report that he will ask Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, to reconsider his veto of a coalition with Shas and United Torah Judaism when he pays a shiva call to Liberman, who is mourning the loss of his mother.
“The prime minister is not working on forming a new government,” a source close to Netanyahu said. “Any reports to the contrary are the political spin of left-wing parties.”
Liberman said he has not changed his mind against a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox.
Shas chairman Arye Deri said no one had approached him in the past few days about negotiating to enter the government.
“There won’t be an alternative coalition,” Deri told Channel 10. “The bill will pass on Monday and we will go to elections.
Deri, who said last year that he backed Labor chairman Isaac Herzog for prime minister, declined to say Saturday night whether he prefers Herzog or Netanyahu. But he said Shas is “not part of an anti-Netanyahu coalition.”
The party heads who do not want Netanyahu to remain prime minister made progress toward uniting over the weekend.
Herzog flew to Washington together with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni for this weekend’s Saban Forum and discussed the possibility of their parties running together.
“I told my wife that I would invest time in my couplehood with Tzipi over the weekend,” Herzog joked in his speech at the event. “We should have a front of forces running together. Livni is a distinguished Israeli leader and I’d like to join forces with her and others in the Israeli center.”
Labor sources said they expect deals to be reached within a matter of days with both Hatnua and Kadima.
But officials in all three parties denied reports that agreements had already been reached and reserved slots had been guaranteed on a united Knesset candidates list.
“We need to remove Netanyahu from power and make the combinations necessary to do so,” Livni told Channel 2. “We need to see which [combined] list brings more votes than the sum of its parts running separately. It could be two parties running together or three.”
Livni said she has no problem with running for Knesset with her fourth party, saying, “My views have never changed for a moment.” Livni and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who were unable to coexist in the same party ahead of the last election in January 2013, no longer veto each other.
“Mofaz has not finalized anything,” a source close to him said. “He will bring his security experience to the Center-Left bloc, but he has not decided yet in which constellation.”
Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri said it does not matter who leads the Center-Left bloc. He said he hopes Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid would head the bloc, but he would also support Livni or Herzog as the leader. Peri said he would not join another party, however, and that if he were to leave Yesh Atid he would leave politics altogether.
Former social welfare minister Moshe Kahlon appeared to express willingness to cooperate with the Center-Left bloc when he told activists in a Tel Aviv pub that he supports territorial concessions, even though he was a Likud hawk until recently.
“I will not hesitate to concede territory for real peace,” Kahlon said. “I will not miss an opportunity for peace.”
Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said in a tape revealed by Channel 10 that he intends to enter politics in the future, but not ahead of the upcoming election.
Former IDF chief rabbi Avichai Ronsky said he intends to run for Knesset with Bayit Yehudi.