Senior Likud officials said Thursday that Ehud Barak's failure to secure a top spot on the party's Knesset ticket for the next elections stands at the root of the discord between the defense minister and Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the officials, Barak sent a representative to meet with Likud leaders to examine the possibility that he could get a top slot on the party's list of candidates, while also ensuring that his fellow Independence faction members could get prominent placement as well.
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The officials said that Likud rejected Barak's request, and some say that this development has contributed to the tension between the defense minister and Netanyahu.
Barak's office dismissed the claims as "unfounded nonsense." Nevertheless, officials in Likud insist that both Barak and his representatives have contacted leaders of various parties, seeking cooperation in the upcoming elections.
The friction between Barak and Netanyahu came to light after reports surfaced that the former secretly met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who previously served as the White House chief of staff. Barak's office said that Netanyahu was informed of the meeting, while sources in the prime minister's bureau claimed he had no knowledge of it. According to recent reports Netanyahu suspects that Barak is making efforts to bolster his own political pull at the prime minister's expense.
Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that Tzipi Livni is about to announce her return to the public sphere. Sources close to the former Kadima leader said that she intends to contend in the upcoming elections as part of a centrist list that is currently being put together by Haim Ramon. The sources said that she is unlikely to join Yesh Atid Head Yair Lapid.
Netanyahu said last week that if he cannot get a majority to pass the state budget for next year, he will move up the elections from their designated October 2013 date. However, some sources say that the PM has yet to give up efforts to pass the budget.
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