Lapid to discuss united Center-Left front to oust Netanyahu

Yesh Atid leader pledges to meet Labor, Tzipi Livni Party to discuss creating a united front against prime minister, but downplays move as "no big drama;" Livni hails meeting as a "real opportunity to make a difference."

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid 370 (photo credit: Efrat Sa'ar)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid 370
(photo credit: Efrat Sa'ar)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Saturday announced he would meet with Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and Tzipi Livni Party leader Tzipi Livni's to discuss efforts to create a "united front" to displace Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The announcement comes in spite of reports that Lapid would not respond to Tzipi Livni's offer, made on Friday, for the Center-Left parties to meet and discuss forming a united front to prevent the re-election of Netanyahu.
However, at a cultural event hosted in Kiryat Bialik, Lapid downplayed the announcement, coyly responding to questions over his Friday night phone-call with Livni and the decision to meet with her and Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, saying that the party leaders would meet in any case.
"Of course I will grant Livni and Yachimovich's request to meet. I meet with every element in the political establishment who wishes to discuss matters with me. This week I had coffee and a long conversation with Shelly Yachimovich. There is no big drama here. The political system is built in a way that its leaders meet all the time," Lapid said.
Lapid added that he did not enjoy publicized announcements, stating: "I don’t like it when people act out of pressure, and it seemed odd to me that the meeting was announced on television with a dramatic statement," he said.
In spite of this, the Tzipi Livni Party hailed the move in a statement following Lapid's announcement, with Livni noting that with a united front against the prime minister, there is a "real opportunity to make a difference."
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Earlier on Saturday, Livni told a cultural forum in Tel Aviv that "anyone who understands the gravity of the situation should rally around the initiative."
"When people see me, Shelly, Yair and [Kadima leader Shaul] Mofaz and anyone else who understands that these are troubled times uniting together around the goal of replacing Netanyahu – all of those who have given up will go out and vote," she said.
Yachimovich also addressed a cultural forum in Tel Aviv on Saturday to say Labor will not be joining a Netanyahu-Liberman government.
"Replacing Netanyahu is a possibility, particularly in light of the fact that Likud-Beiteinu is very weak," she added.
Lapid echoed Yacimovich's sentiment, saying he would not sit as a "fifth-wheel" in a government formed of the Orthodox and extreme right, because it has "no taste."
In an interview with Channel 2, Livni claimed that her party, in conjunction with Shelly Yacimovich's Labor and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, were projected to win more seats than Netanyahu's joint Likud-Beytenu list and could thus form a coalition government following the January 22 elections.
Livni said that a meeting with both Yacimovich and Lapid could take place as early as Saturday, and that the three were in agreement that a Netanyahu-led goverment "would lead to the downfall of the state of Israel."
Livni hinted that she was willing to compromise on her previous insistence that she be the one to head a Center Left bloc, saying that she was prepared "to put all of the personal considerations aside."
Livni stressed, however, that her goal was not to unite the Center-Left parties into a singular unit, but rather to work together towards the common goal of displacing Netanyahu.
Following Livni's interview, Yacimovich issued a statement saying she would be willing to meet with Livni on Saturday to to discuss matters further, however said on Saturday that her schedule did not allow for a meeting at that time.