Netanyahu associates: No unity government attempts

Media reported PM hoping to combine Likud with Kulanu, Yisrael Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi.

Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not currently trying to build a mega-party or making generous offers to the Zionist Union to join his government, his associates said Wednesday, denying reports in the Hebrew press.
According to one report, the prime minister was trying to form “the Israeli Republican Party,” by uniting his Likud with Kulanu, Yisrael Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi, minus its more extreme Tekuma party, into a super-party that would have an easier time winning the next election.
Ma’ariv reported the reason Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog was mulling delaying the Labor leadership primary was to accept an offer from Netanyahu to become his defense minister in a national unity government.
The report said Netanyahu was also offering Labor the Foreign Affairs and Justice portfolios but only if Herzog could guarantee that he would head the party for the next two years.
Herzog’s associates confirmed that he was considering several options regarding when to hold the next primary, which must be held by May 2016 according to the party’s bylaws, unless they are changed.
But Herzog himself said he saw no connection between his internal party issues and the possibility of joining the government. He said his interest was to replace the government, not to join it.
“The reports are nothing more than summertime hallucinations of journalists with political interests,” Herzog said.
Netanyahu’s associates said there were always unofficial talks aimed at getting more mandates, power and stability. They said the Likud wants a wider government and party but that there are no offers on the table.
Likud officials said any talk of running together with other parties in the next general election would only be serious closer to the date of the election, which is currently set for 2019, but is almost sure to be advanced.
Sources close to Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon said he did not see himself returning to Likud or merging with the party as long as it is headed by Netanyahu.