Likud talks merger with Israel Beiteinu

Party's Central Committee candidate Gila Gamliel calls idea of a Labor-Kadima merger a "dirty ploy."

Avigdor Lieberman 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Avigdor Lieberman 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Even as Likud central committee leadership candidate Gila Gamliel mocked rumors of an attempt at a merger between Labor and Kadima, Likud representatives said Sunday that they would not rule out a merger of their own, with Israel Beiteinu. Gamliel called the idea of a Labor-Kadima merger a "stinking maneuver," using the phrase Yitzhak Rabin used to describe Shimon Peres's failed attempt to topple the national-unity government he formed with Yitzhak Shamir in 1990. "Ehud and Ehud, no mergers, rotations or stinking maneuvers will help you," Gamliel said. "The Likud will win the next election and Binyamin Netanyahu will be the next prime minister." But at the same time, sources close to party chairman Netanyahu said that although they were interested in running together with Israel Beiteinu, there had been no talks between the two parties on the matter for several months. Israel Beiteinu officials, however, said that while Netanyahu and top party officials held frequent meetings on other topics, the chances for such an alliance were "minimal." The problem, the Israel Beiteinu officials said, was that a basic condition for merger talks was the Likud central committee's acceptance of four principles that formed the basis of Israel Beiteinu's platform. The Likudniks would have to accept the idea of a land swap between Palestinians and Israel, a presidential regime and civil union, and support MK David Rotem's bill to transfer authority to carry out conversions with local rabbis, instead of with the rabbinic courts. Israel Beiteinu officials acknowledged that even if Netanyahu were to offer his support to all of these principles, they would demand that they gain the approval of the central committee. Netanyahu's former chief of staff Naftali Bennett was a strong proponent of the merger idea and pushed it seriously, but he resigned two months ago. The Jerusalem Post first reported that Netanyahu and Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman had entered discussions about a merger more than a year ago, in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War. Those talks, however, stalled when Israel Beiteinu joined the government.