Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frustrated with the Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid parties, has reportedly once again turned to Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni. Reports several weeks ago indicated that the two had been holding talks.
Channel 10 News in Israel reported on Sunday, February 17, that Livni’s party is probably the closest to joining Netanyahu’s coalition. The report indicated that Livni is in constant touch with the Likud Beytenu’s number 2, Avigdor Lieberman, and that understandings between the two parties are beginning to emerge.
The report indicated that under the agreements reached, Livni will be appointed Justice Minister, a position she held during the government of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
She is also expected to be part of a small group of senior ministers where she will be allowed to play an influential role in the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, reported Channel 10.
Livni, whose newly formed party achieved just six seats in the election, has conditioned her entering the coalition on the resumption of peace negotiations with the PA. Netanyahu has repeatedly mentioned his intention to restart negotiations.
Netanyahu’s turning to Livni is another direct result of his frustration over his failure to reach coalition agreements with the Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid, which have reportedly made a deal to enter the coalition together or not at all, , in an apparent attempt by both parties to guarantee a coalition ally with similar goals.
Sources in the Likud have questioned the motivation behind the deal, suggesting that Yesh Atid’s platform differs from Bayit Yehudi’s on key issues.
Lapid, who insists on implementing a program that would see yeshiva students being drafted into the army, has imposed almost impossible preconditions on entering the government.
On Thursday it was reported that Lapid is steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.
In addition to talking to Livni, Netanyahu has also not yet given up on the possibility of the Labor party joining the coalition as well, Likud sources told Channel 10.
The sources quoted Netanyahu as having said during a party meeting on Sunday morning that “everything is open and we are examining all the options” regarding the Labor party.
Netanyahu has met with Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich several times, the last time being on Friday, but Yechimovich has continuously insisted that she will not join a Netanyahu-led government because of his socio-economic policies.
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