Netanyahu and Herzog.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Both the Likud and Zionist Union squashed reports that their leaders were negotiating over the Rosh Hashana holiday on Tuesday and are close to forming a unity coalition.
According to a Channel 10 report, Zionist Union would get eight portfolios, including the Foreign Ministry for current opposition leader Isaac Herzog.
In addition, Netanyahu would call a regional conference on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Herzog and the Likud both said that they completely deny the report.
“I’m sorry that people are spreading false information during the holiday. Have a happy holiday and a sweet year. I’m sorry that the peacefulness of your holiday was broken,” Herzog’s statement read.
In a text message to Zionist Union MKs sent after the report came out midday, Herzog wrote that he was not negotiating; and that he had been in synagogue for the past four hours.
In the evening, following the holiday’s end, Herzog blamed “elements in the Likud” for spreading the rumor, in an interview with Channel 2 News.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked coalition party leaders if they would have a problem with Zionist Union joining the coalition, and they said no. Netanyahu pointed out that it would require them to give up portfolios.
Netanyahu and Herzog have negotiated on and off for much of the past year, and came close to an agreement in May. However, when Herzog waffled due to pressure in his party, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman took the opportunity – and the defense portfolio – and joined the coalition.
Those pressures came up again Tuesday, with senior figures in the Zionist Union speaking out against joining the coalition.
MK Amir Peretz wrote an eight-point list on Facebook as to why the party should say no, ending with a graphic that reads: “Don’t join Bibi, replace Bibi.”
“I don’t want to be in Bibi’s government. I want to build an alternative that will reach the hearts of these voters,” Peretz wrote on Twitter.
MK Erel Margalit, who is running for the position of Labor leader in next year’s primary, took to Twitter to say: “The prime minister’s attempt to break up the Labor Party will not succeed.
I will focus all of my power so that we don’t give up on replacing Netanyahu, and so that we don’t join him, God forbid.”
Likely Labor leadership contender MK Shelly Yacimovich, however, tweeted photos of desserts her daughter baked for Rosh Hashana.
When asked on the social network if they were refreshments for the first meeting of the unity government, Yacimovich responded in English: “Yeah, sure.”