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Former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin came out against perceived attempts in Washington to persuade Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to add Kadima to his coalition, warning that changing the current coalition would make it more difficult to pass a peace agreement.
Senior Likud officials have accused US President Barack Obama’s administration of actively seeking to overthrow Netanyahu, or at least to put him in a position requiring him to replace Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. Labor chairman Ehud Barak called for the expansion of the coalition on Monday in a speech at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, increasing pressure on Netanyahu to add Kadima.
Beilin said he did not believe that Kadima would end up joining the coalition, mainly because neither Netanyahu nor Livni wanted that to happen. He said that had Netanyahu initially formed a coalition with Kadima, it would have made it easier to advance peace but that adding Livni’s party now would be counterproductive.
“The current coalition doesn’t constrain the prime minister,” Beilin said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post this week. “He could have formed a coalition with Kadima and Labor, but his heart is not there, and he didn’t come to power to implement the Geneva Initiative. He will go to a peace agreement only if he feels all other options are worse, and when he does, the autocratic, disciplined Shas and Israel Beiteinu will support him and enable him to pass it.”
Beilin said that Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman is pragmatic, supports dividing Jerusalem, and takes the demographic threat seriously, while Shas has a hawkish electorate but MKs who could be ordered by their mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to abstain on a peace agreement.
He predicted that neither party would oppose a Netanyahu plan for a two-state solution as long as they were in the coalition, but said that were they in the opposition, they would surely vote against it.
“When our friends abroad ask us, ‘Is it is still possible for Livni to join the coalition and untie Netanyahu’s hands?’
“I laugh,” Beilin said.
“I tell them that Netanyahu invented his coalition, and if he makes a decision [to advance peace], they [his coalition partners] will stand by him.”
Beilin, who currently runs an international consulting firm that
connects businesses in Israel and abroad, downplayed international
perceptions about Netanyahu having a right-wing government. He said
that the prime minister’s Likud party was both the most right-wing and
left-wing party in the coalition.
A veteran observer of the
US-Israel relationship, Beilin said that American governments had
always interfered in Israeli politics and vice versa, but that he could
not verify reports that the American administration was actively trying
to undermine Netanyahu’s government.
prefers Republicans, and I’m sure America preferred Livni,” Beilin
said. “They might not want to replace Netanyahu now but only to
convince Livni to join. That would be wrong, and it won’t succeed.”
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