Livni: Lieberman viable gov't partner

FM critical of Israel Beiteinu for appealing to fear; MK Aharonovich softens stance on Kadima-led gov't.

elections2009_248 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday said that she was not opposed to having Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party in her coalition - as long as he conforms to the government's platform. Speaking to Army Radio, Livni nevertheless said that "voting out of fear is problematic, be it out of fear of Arabs or any other group." Responding to a Ma'ariv report that she would demand a rotation with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu at the helm of the government, Livni said that she "intends to win the elections." Meanwhile, in a departure from statements made by fellow members of Israel Beiteinu in recent days, MK Yitzhak Aharonovich said Thursday morning that he would not eliminate the possibility of joining a Kadima-led government. The Israel Beiteinu MK added, however, that his party still preferred the more natural partnership with Likud. "These days it looks like we will be the deciding factor, and we will prefer Likud," he told Army Radio. Aharonovich expressed satisfaction over Netanyahu's promise to give Lieberman a senior portfolio in his cabinet. "Netanyahu has finally said the right thing," he said, "but we will wait until after the election to see if it comes to pass." Lieberman himself continued to rule out sitting in a government led by Livni on Wednesday and he and MKs close to him spoke openly about their preference for Netanyahu as prime minister. "I think the Likud and Israel Beiteinu are two components of the next government," Lieberman told reporters in the South. "I see Israel Beiteinu as an integral and influential part of a nationalist government with guidelines of the nationalist camp." Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem went further, telling the Knesset Channel that "Israel Beiteinu will not sit in a government led by Livni" and that the party would not recommend to President Shimon Peres that Livni form the next government. Instead, he said the party would recommend that either Netanyahu or Lieberman himself be entrusted with the task. On Wednesday, Netanyahu reached out to voters who intend to cast their ballots for Israel Beiteinu by reassuring them that a vote for the Likud would guarantee Lieberman a senior ministry. He spoke to Lieberman's core constituency at a massive rally at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds in which his speech was translated into Russian. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report