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Forming Coalition

Netanyahu and Livni. Secret talks Photo: Gil Yohanan
Netanyahu and Livni. Secret talks Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
Peres. Involved? Photo: AFP
Peres. Involved? Photo: AFP
 
 

Kadima, Labor don't rule out unity gov't

Sources involved in political talks tell Ynet secret mediator examining possibility of forming coalition which would include Likud, Kadima and Labor. According to sources, President Peres aware of negotiations. On the agenda: Uneven rotation in role of PM between Netanyahu, Livni

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 03.13.09, 20:47 / Israel News

Sources in the political arena estimated Friday evening a secret mediator has been passing messages in the past few days between leaders of the Likud, Kadima and Labor parties in a bid to examine the possibility of forming a national unity government.

 

A senior Kadima official noted that "the talks are being held between politicians behind the scenes."

 

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Ynet has also learned that President Shimon Peres is aware of the talks. The President's Residence refused to comment on the report, as well as to confirm or deny that Peres had met in recent days with Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni or Labor Chairman Ehud Barak.

 

Sources involved in the negotiations told Ynet that Peres held conversations with different elements in the past few days and has been briefed on the details of the talks.

 

"The president is aware of what is going on, but this is a very sensitive issue," said a source close to Peres.

 

Sources in the political system estimated that Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu may be considering asking the president for an extension in the time period given to him to form a government, and to launch intensive three-week negotiations with Labor and Kadima. These estimates have not been officially confirmed by the Likud party.

 

Sources in the political system noted that the demands made by Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman in the past week have caused a great deal of anger in the Likud. Senior party officials have been pressuring Netanyahu to reexamine the possibility of a unity government, and even to accept Livni's demand for a rotation in the prime minister's role.

 

Vice Premier Haim Ramon recently suggested an unequal rotation, which would have Netanyahu serve as prime minister for three years and Livni serve for less than two years.

 

A senior Kadima official said that "Livni is not rejecting this option out of hand." Netanyahu rejected this idea in the past, saying that he would not agree to a rotation deal.

 

Breakthrough?

Meanwhile, a senior Labor Party official, who has been opposed to joining a coalition with the Likud and right-wing parties since the Knesset elections, told Ynet on Friday evening that "if Netanyahu proves that he is not a politician but rather a leader, and if he halts the talks with the right-wing parties and calls on Kadima and Labor to join the government, even those who have been opposed to this ideas up to now will have to reconsider their stance.

 

"It would be difficult for us to say no to a wide government based on the Likud, Kadima and Labor," the source said.

 

Senior Kadima officials close to Livni noted that "if Netanyahu agrees to the unequal rotation idea it will be a breakthrough, and the entire picture will change."

 

Earlier Friday, Ynet reported that the secret talks between the Likud and Kadima have been resumed recently in a bid to form a joint coalition. Netanyahu himself has spoken to senior Kadima officials, but Likud sources clarified that "these were not negotiation talks."

 

Sources close to Livni refused to confirm or deny that Nentanyahu and Livni had spoken or met in recent days.

 

A Kadima source involved in the talks noted, however, that "the feeling is that something is moving with Netanyahu. He seems to understand that he cannot govern with a rightist government, and it will be difficult to say no to him if he stops the negotiations with the right-wing parties, agrees to a rotation and re-launches intensive negotiations."

 

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