Netanyahu and Herzog.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition will not be expanded beyond its 61 MKs, despite the terror raging across the country, the heads of opposition factions indicated in the Knesset Monday night.
There were hopes in the Likud that the terrorist attacks could be used as a catalyst to widen the razor-thin majority the coalition has in the parliament.
Netanyahu even invited the Zionist Union to enter the government at a press conference last Thursday.
But on the first day of the Knesset’s winter session following its extended summer recess, opposition party heads firmly ruled out entering the government.
“We are all united in the fight against terrorism, but that is not a reason to join a failing government,” Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog said in a speech to the Knesset plenum following an address by Netanyahu.
Herzog told his faction that the Zionist Union would continue to fight the government on all key issues. His No. 2 in the faction, MK Tzipi Livni, mocked Netanyahu for only coming to the realization now that building in Judea and Samaria alienates the international community and is not in Israel’s best interests.
“The government has failed in the basic task of providing personal security,” Livni told the faction. “If the prime minister is going to manage the conflict, rather than solve it, he should at least manage it well.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who polls show Israelis want to become defense minister, told reporters in the Knesset that he had no plans to leave the opposition.
“It is important that the public respects our consistency,” Liberman said. “But as long as the policies of the government don’t change, neither will our decision [not to join it].”
Liberman blasted the government for continuing to fund and cooperate with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, despite the Palestinian leader’s financial support for murderers of Israelis and his refusal to condemn terrorist attacks.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who is in the government, went further, saying that anyone who says Abbas does not incite terrorism is lying. He read from two posters of Abbas’s Fatah Party praising the terrorists who have tried to murder Israelis as martyrs.
“For 20 years Israel has been in a false conception that there is a Palestinian partner,” Bennett told his Bayit Yehudi faction.
“The PA is not a partner and is not the solution. It’s the problem. The price we pay for strengthening the PA is too much to bear. We give them a hand, and they give us a knife.”
Due to the Palestinian wave of violence, Yesh Atid canceled its faction meeting and went to Jerusalem’s Old City to support security forces. But Lapid said he would not take his faction into the coalition.
“We are starting the winter session of the Knesset today by removing our motion of no-confidence in the government, because this isn’t the time for politics,” Lapid said. “I deplore those who are trying to exploit the current situation for cheap political points or to garner credit. This isn’t the time.
Our model should be unity internally and strength externally.
That’s how we should work, that’s what Israel needs now – unity and a sense that everyone stands together in the face of a common enemy.”
Defending its no-confidence motion, Meretz accused both Lapid and Herzog of moving too far to the Right in response to the terrorist attacks. Meretz MK Michal Rozin said Lapid “betrayed the sane public” by removing his party’s no confidence motion.
“Herzog has been dragged so far to the Right that he has lost his senses,” Rozin said. “[Late prime minister and Labor leader] Yitzhak Rabin is probably turning over in his grave.”