(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Hatnua faction chairman Meir Sheetrit asked his party leader, Tzipi Livni, Wednesday for the Environmental Protection post vacated by their party colleague Amir Peretz.
Peretz resigned Sunday, saying that he could no longer support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic and socioeconomic policies.
He revealed in closed conversations that he had made up his mind more than a month ago. Netanyahu has held the portfolio himself since Peretz’s resignation took effect Tuesday.
Livni said Sunday that her party was entitled to keep the portfolio. But Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said that without Peretz, Hatnua had only five MKs in the coalition, and it therefore did not deserve to keep the portfolio.
Sheetrit met with Livni Wednesday, and she told him she would make a decision in the upcoming days about who will receive the portfolio.
MK Amram Mitzna said he would not accept the portfolio if it was offered to him, because he believes Hatnua should not have joined the coalition and should leave immediate.
Livni’s associates said she was not considering keeping the post for herself or giving it to an outsider who is not an MK, such as former MK Yoel Hasson or environmentalist Alon Tal, who was a Knesset candidate with Hatnua in last year’s election.
The other Hatnua MKs are freshmen – David Tsur and Elazar Stern – who lack the experience of Sheetrit, who has held several portfolios.
Hatnua’s days in the coalition could be numbered. Livni participated in a rally of Arab activists Wednesday with opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and the advancement of the controversial Israel Hayom bill at the Knesset Wednesday led to speculation Netanyahu could advance the next general election to prevent the legislation from passing into law.
But Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) both said Wednesday morning that it would be wrong to initiate elections and the public does not want them.
“Elections would not cause a big change in the political makeup,” Liberman told Israel Radio. “But regardless, Yisrael Beytenu will be ready.”
Lapid rejected a call to leave Netanyahu’s government and form his own together with parties in the coalition and opposition.
“I don’t deal with political conspiracies,” Lapid told Army Radio.“ I have to work on lowering the cost of living.
I entered politics to achieve goals, not to play political games.”