Sources: Last-minute Livni-Lapid merger unlikely

Talks between parties have not progressed and don't appear likely to lead to merger ahead of deadline to submit party lists.

Tzipi Livni 370 (R) (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Tzipi Livni 370 (R)
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Talks between officials close to former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, examining the option of their running together in the January 22 election, have not made significant progress ahead of the deadlines for candidate list submission to the central elections committee, sources in both parties said Monday.
Parties have until Thursday at 10 p.m. to submit their lists at the Knesset, but new parties tend to submit their lists at the first possible opportunity in order to be granted the earliest chance at picking code letters that represent their party on ballots. The Knesset will open its doors at 10 p.m. Tuesday for parties to submit their lists and make their requests.
A Livni adviser said talks have been held between former minister Haim Ramon, who was instrumental in the formation of the Tzipi Livni Party, and former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s former bureau chief Uri Shani, who currently advises Lapid. But the adviser said the talks were unlikely to bear fruit.
“Everyone is talking to everyone but nothing is concrete,” the adviser said. “Tzipi said all options for enlarging the bloc and giving a fight to Likud are still on the table.”
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In a sign that Lapid is not about to make a deal with Livni, Yesh Atid signed a vote-sharing agreement Monday with the Labor party. The agreement guarantees that extra votes beyond what is needed for a mandate do not go to waste. In the past, Labor signed such agreements with Meretz, but it made the deal with Lapid in order to harm Livni and to present itself as a party that is centrist, not leftist.
The Likud is expected to sign a vote-sharing agreement with Habayit Hayehudi, which formally approved its merger with the religious Zionist Tekuma party Monday in Modi’in. The joint list will be headed by Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, followed by Tekuma chairman Uri Ariel.