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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
New Kadima leader Tzipi Livni denied on Sunday reports claiming she called Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz on Saturday and told him he was needed in the government she is now forming.
"The chairman of Kadima does not yet bother with the portfolios of the day after, she has certainly not made any propositions. This is true regarding everyone, including Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz," a Livni spokesman said.
According to the report, this was the first time Livni and Mofaz, who competed for the Kadima leadership on September 17, had spoken since Mofaz called her to congratulate her on her victory in the vote.
Livni reportedly told Mofaz that her offer to appoint him as a minister in the future government was still valid and that she would like to see him working alongside her.
Sources close to Mofaz told The Jerusalem Post Saturday he was planning to be back after Rosh Hashana from the time-out he took after the loss to Livni.
The sources said further that it seemed like Mofaz would accept Livni's suggestion and that he would want to serve as foreign minister as well as deputy premier, or take the Finance portfolio.
But Mofaz's spokesman put out a statement late Saturday night saying that while there had been a conversation between Livni and Mofaz, they had not spoken about political matters and they did not discuss the issue of portfolios.
Livni is scheduled to meet with Shas chairman Eli Yishai on Sunday for further discussions on the terms for his party's entrance to the coalition.
Last week it was reported that Shas's demand for raising child allowances might be accepted, but in a different format, such as one that would channel funds only to parents in the weaker sectors of the population.
The two parties appointed representatives - David Glass and Yohanan Stessman for Shas, and Yoram Raved and Amir Goldstein for Kadima - to conduct the negotiations.
Livni is expected to meet with Labor chairman Ehud Barak for the third time later this week, though the upcoming holidays will now interfere with her efforts to quickly form a coalition.
Sources close to the two revealed to the Post that Livni and Barak had held daily telephone conversations in addition to the two meetings they held last week.
Both Livni and Barak appointed representatives last Sunday to hold more intensive negotiations, former coalition chairman Efi Oshaya for Labor and former cabinet secretary Yisrael Maimon for Kadima. Oshaya and Maimon's talks, which were reported by sources close to the discussions to be going in "the right direction," were kept secret from the leaders' advisers and staff.
But the Maimon-Oshaya channel broke down last week when Maimon refused Barak's demand to raise the framework of the state budget by 2.5 percent to boost Defense Ministry spending and benefits for pensioners, university students and immigrants.
Barak's requests to head Israel's negotiating team with Syria and to block the reforms of Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann were rejected by Maimon as well.
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