Photos: Ohad Zwigenberg, Ofer Amram, Haim Zach, Ido Erez
Yisrael Katz
Photo: Flash 90
'Israel's most senior figure'
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Minister hints that Likud merger based on fear of Peres
Transportation minister tells activists that Netanyahu decided to join forces with Lieberman following rumors that 'Israel's' most senior figure' would lead leftist bloc
Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feel threatened by his longtime rival? Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has hinted that Netanyahu's decision to merge the Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu was based on his fear of a union in the leftist-centrist bloc under President Shimon Peres' leadership.


Katz made the statements, which were originally reported by Makor Rishon's Zeev Kam, during a conference in Or Yehuda earlier this week.


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"It's no secret that rumors in the past few months suggested that leftist elements were trying to set up party or faction unions," he said.


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Katz noted that several parties explored "collaborations" in order to prevent the Likud and Netanyahu from taking the next elections.


He then insinuated that one plan sought to place Peres as the leader of the new bloc.

פרס ונתניהו (צילום ארכיון: אוהד צויגנברג)

Peres and Netanyahu (Archive photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


One of the rumors, he said, suggested "that a very senior figure, the highest ranking in the country, but not in politics, was said to come despite its age and unify the leftist parties under its leadership. That person was approached."


He further added, "The prime minister told me, and I assume several others as well, that should this happen we would need to allow him to bring forward a proposal to merge factions as well."


Yuval Karni is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent




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