Herzog and Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A group of new Likud MKs called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to form a rightwing government and not a coalition with the Labor Party, in an unexpected challenge to the prime minister’s authority.
MKs David Amsalem, David Bitan, Jackie Levy, Miki Zohar and Abraham Naguise reacted to a Channel 1 report from Monday that Netanyahu held a secret meeting before Passover with Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to explore the possibility of a national unity government.
“We promised out voters a nationalist government,” Amsalem said. “We have to go with those we see eye to eye with ideologically, not with [Arab Zionist Union MK] Zouheir Bahloul.”
What is being described in the party as a “mini-rebellion” by parliamentarians who have not started work yet, came amid reports that Netanyahu was not succeeding in his attempt to woo Herzog. According to one report, Herzog rejected Netanyahu’s demand that Labor join the coalition without MK Tzipi Livni and her allies that she brought to the Zionist Union.
The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew sister publication Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu’s offer to Labor included six portfolios, including Foreign Affairs, Economy and Education.
Herzog issued a firm denial that he met with Netanyahu Wednesday morning, telling Channel 2 “there is no such thing, he made no offer and there were no contacts.”
He complained about constantly having to deny that he was entering the government.
The Likud, meanwhile, continued its efforts to form a government without the Zionist Union. Its negotiating team met Wednesday with representatives of Kulanu. Haaretz reported that the Likud would offer a rotation in the Foreign Ministry to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett.
Talks are not expected to take place for the rest of the week, due to the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Netanyahu has until Tuesday to form a government or ask President Reuven Rivlin for a two-week extension until May 6.