Netanyahu Joe Lieberman 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Following his meeting with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu over the possibility of Labor joining a broad, Likud-led government, Ehud Barak said late Monday morning that "the voters have sent Labor to the opposition. That's where we're going."
Netanyahu reconfirmed his determination to form a broad coalition, despite the apparent refusal of Barak and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to join a Likud-led government.
"[I do] not plan giving up on efforts to form a unity government in face of the challenges, primarily Iran," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said throughout his election campaign that he wanted Kadima, Labor, or both in his government.
Barak said he told Netanyahu that Labor would serve as a "responsible, serious and constructive opposition." The Labor leader also said the two had agreed to meet again.
Barak has publicly ruled out joining the coalition, but Channel 10 reported that in closed conversations, he has put out feelers about whether his party would let him get out of his commitment.
On Sunday night, Netanyahu and Livni decided to continue meeting in the next few days in an effort to forge a national unity government, after discussions between the two at the capital's Inbal Hotel that Netanyahu described as positive and Livni as negative.
Netanyahu said after his meeting with Livni that they would meet again in upcoming days in an effort to find common ground en route to the formation of a coalition.
"This is the will of the people," Netanyahu said. "One who is looking for disputes can find them, but it is possible to reach a joint path."
But Livni said after the meeting that they had "deep differences on diplomatic issues." She said she was also unsatisfied with his answers on electoral reform and civil unions.
"Tonight's meeting did not get me closer to sitting in the government or give me the answers I was looking for on the issues that really matter," Livni said.
A source close to Netanyahu responded that their main difference on the diplomatic issue was whether the coalition guidelines would call for "two states for two peoples," as Livni wanted, or something more vague, as Netanyahu did.
Netanyahu said he would allow Livni to draft the coalition guidelines together with him.