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'Balance things out.' Livni Photo: Eran Yoffi Cohen
'Balance things out.' Livni Photo: Eran Yoffi Cohen
 
 

Likud members: Livni will block rightist legislation

Ruling party officials slam Netanyahu, say coalition agreement gives Hatnua leader too much power. Habayit Hayehudi: Putting negotiations in hands of woman who was responsible for Gaza disengagement plan make it hard for us to join coalition

Moran Azulay
Published: 02.20.13, 00:33 / Israel News

The first coalition deal, which granted Hatnua Chairwoman the justice portfolio and put her in charge of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, has irked many Likud members, who claim she was given excessive powers in exchange for her willingness to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 's new government.

 

Knesset members from the ruling party said that should Hatnua also head the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, the centrist party would thwart all 'rightist' initiatives.

 

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Speaking to Ynet, the lawmakers from the ruling party leveled harsh criticism at party leader Netanyahu for securing Livni a prominent role in any future peace talks despite his past promise that she would not be involved.

 

According to Tuesday's agreement between Likud-Beiteinu and Hatnua, which won only six Knesset seats in the recent elections, Livni will serve as justice minister and also lead the Israeli peace negotiating team. Fellow Hatnua member Amir Peretz will most likely receive the Environmental Protection portfolio.

 

Senior Likud officials said giving the justice portfolio to Livni and letting her head the Ministerial Committee for Legislation would paralyze the 19th Knesset with regards to the principles represented by Likud.

 

"By handing the justice portfolio over to Livni, Likud also handed over the key to all legislation in the Knesset over to a small coalition faction," a top Likud minister said. "Maybe Netanyahu is hoping she won’t do anything in the ministry, as was the case when she headed it in the past, but it is enough that she blocks our initiatives for things to get complicated."

 

The minister claimed Likud must head the House Committee and the Justice Committee to "balance out the situation and leave the ruling party some influence on what the Knesset will do."

 

Meanwhile, sources in Habayit Hayehudi responded to the inclusion of Hatnua in the next coalition and Livni's appointment as head of the peace negotiations. "Putting negotiations in the hands of the person who managed the talks on Jerusalem, and who was responsible for the (Gaza) disengagement plan, will make it hard for Habayit Hayehudi to come to the table as part of coalition discussions," one of the sources said.

 

Next in line

After Hatnua, next in line to join the government is Shas. Senior officials dealing with the coalition negotiations said earlier that the haredi party will decide in the upcoming day whether or not to accept the proposed outline regarding equal distribution of the burden. If the party says yes to the outline – a deal with Likud-Beiteinu will be signed.

 

MK Aryeh Deri, one of Shas's leaders, congratulated Livni on her decision to join a Netanyahu-led coalition. During their conversation, Livni said she expects Shas to sign a similar agreement in the next few days.

 

"Tzipi Livni brings with her years of experience which I am sure will aid us in overcoming the challenges we face," Deri said, adding "We need a strong government which will unite the different factions of our society and not promote hatred towards the other."

 

Besides ongoing negotiations with Likud-Beiteinu, Deri has been meeting with officials from the Labor Party in a last-ditch effort to convince them to join the next government.

 

Deri arrived at the Histadrut Labor Federation on Tuesday and held a three hour-long meeting with its chairman Ofer Eini, a known Labor Party strongman. Sources close to Deri said the meeting was very good.

 
Deri even went as far as announcing, in private conversations, that "Am Yisrael needs Shelly (Yachimovich) as finance minister. It is an interest we share as a party dedicated to those in need."
 
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
 

 

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