MKs weigh in on joining coalition as talks begin

Labor to stay in opposition, while Livni Party demands resumption of peace talks; PM meets with Yesh Atid, Shas, Bayit Yehudi.

Tzipi Livni, Amir Peretz 'Hatnua' 390 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Tzipi Livni, Amir Peretz 'Hatnua' 390
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Newly elected MKs weighed in on the possibility of joining the coalition as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau officially began talks to form the new government on Sunday.
Labor MK Eitan Cabel told Army Radio that his party would not join the coalition, and that his party was united behind party leader Shelly Yacimovich's position that Labor would rather sit in the opposition than join Netanyahu's government.
On Saturday evening, Netanyahu called on leaders of parties that announced they would not serve in his government to reconsider and stressed the need to form a national unity government to deal with the issues facing the country, both domestically and internationally.
Tzipi Livni Party MK Amir Peretz said his would consider joining the coalition if it was "promised that negotiations for a political settlement with the Palestinians would occur," Army Radio reported on Sunday.
"The parties that form the government are not important but rather its guiding principles," Peretz stressed.
Joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said on Saturday night that he feels Netanyahu prefers to form a new government without Shas.
Speaking on Channel 2, Yishai estimated that there was just a thirty percent chance of Shas joining the next coalition and accused Yair Lapid of seeking to “divide the nation and wanting to destroy the world of Torah.” Yishai was responding to Yesh Atid's demand to promote service equality as a condition to joining the coalition.
But on Saturday evening Netanyahu echoed the language of the haredi parties regarding the central issue of haredi national service enlistment.
The prime minister said that it was important to “significantly increase the share of the burden [of national service],” but that it must be done in a “responsible manner that will bring real change without dividing the nation and causing a civil war.”
Likud Beytenu's negotiating team is set to meet with Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Shas on Sunday.
On Monday, Likud Beytenu will meet with United Torah Judaism, The Tzipi Livni Party and Kadima.
Lahav Harkov, Greer Fay Cashman and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.