Livni denies coalition talks with PM

Kadima minister says privately he wishes he could rejoin cabinet, but at least one party has to leave.

Livni flag 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni flag 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni's office denied reports on Monday that she held a secret meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Beit Hanassi on Saturday night and discussed entering the coalition. According to one report, President Shimon Peres wanted Livni to join the coalition, because he was convinced that Netanyahu could advance the diplomatic process, but he was concerned that the Right would leave the coalition and bring Netanyahu down. An MK said the real story was that Peres urged Netanyahu to meet with Livni and the prime minister agreed but Livni said no. But Livni's associates denied both versions of the story. "There was no talk with Bibi before the speech," a Livni associate said. "Maybe Peres and Netanyahu talked about such a meeting by themselves, but they didn't call her. The prime minister is supposed to update the opposition leader regularly, but he delayed such meetings twice, including last week. If he wants to meet, they will meet and he should stop with this political spin." Peres's spokeswoman also denied the reports. A Kadima minister said privately that he wished he could rejoin the cabinet but that he believed it would only happen if the diplomatic process advanced and at least one party left the coalition. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who openly supports joining the government, has declined to comment since the speech. In a meeting of the Kadima faction, MK Ronit Tirosh called upon Livni to reconsider joining the government. "We cannot ignore that Netanyahu said what we wanted," Tirosh said. "He said the words 'Palestinian state.' Do we have new conditions now? I don't know what our excuse is anymore. We said it was our condition, we got it, so what now?" Livni responded that Kadima would deal with the matter in an eventual meeting but did not say when. Livni told the faction that Netanyahu has taken "a step in the right direction [kadima, i.e., a step towards her party], albeit too late, after hesitating, only after pressure and with a lot of ifs and buts." "The opposition is responsible for making sure that words are not just said in vain and that action takes place," Livni added. "If the words lead to a real initiative, we will be a responsible opposition and support it. But if the words were said just to get by, and I hope not, we will do what a responsible opposition does and attack."