Netanyahu to Livni: Unity gov’t?

Kadima won't join without new coalition guidelines.

Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu probed opposition leader Tzipi Livni and MK Tzahi Hanegbi about the possibility of Kadima joining a national unity government in meetings last week, Kadima and Likud sources confirmed Monday.
The sources denied reports that Kadima was en route to the government or that progress had been made in talks behind the scenes. They said neither Netanyahu nor Livni had changed their original positions that have prevented a government between them in the past.
Kadima still opposes joining the current government without setting new coalition guidelines in favor of taking steps to expedite the diplomatic process, and Netanyahu still opposes showing the door to any of his current coalition partners.
“There is no chance that Netanyahu has changed his mind,” Hanegbi said. “He asked us what we thought about widening the government. We said we cannot join the coalition as-is, but Kadima would have no problem with going back to square one and forming new guidelines. If the other parties want to stay, they can.”
Livni told the Kadima faction on Monday said she was not interested in saving the current government but in changing its policies and the makeup of the coalition.
“Nothing has changed in my stance, which I explain everywhere,” she said.
While a Likud source said they sensed a change in Livni, sources close to her denounced recent speculation as political spin. They said Labor chairman Ehud Barak’s recent comments about widening the coalition were tactical efforts to ease pressure on him from inside his party to leave the coalition.
Barak was quoted last week saying at an internal Labor meeting that if Kadima was not added to the coalition by the end of the year or substantial progress was not made in the diplomatic process, Labor would quit the government. His spokesman denied the quotes.
Labor ministers Isaac Herzog and Avishay Braverman have said that Labor should quit if there is no diplomatic breakthrough by September. Labor MK Amir Peretz has called for giving Likud an ultimatum that if Kadima did not join immediately, Labor would leave.
Barak’s political opponents in Labor said he actually opposed Livni joining the government, but he was calling for adding Kadima in order to pressure Netanyahu to make concessions in the diplomatic process and break his promise to renew settlement construction when the moratorium ends at the end of September.
The Likud Central Committee is expected to pass a proposal on Thursday calling for the resumption of construction following the end of the 10-month freeze. Netanyahu does not oppose the proposal, but he plans to avoid the event in order to downplay its significance.
The Central Committee meeting was initiated by Likud hawk Danny Danon in order to pressure Netanyahu.