Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Labor leader Merav Michaeli Sunday evening and offered her generous representation in the government, including senior portfolios, if she agrees her center-left party unites with the left-wing Meretz party, an offer which she rejected.
Lapid's proposal came as recent opinion polls showed both parties teetering above the electoral threshold ahead of the November polls.
Lapid fears that if one or both parties fail to make the cut, it would kill any hope of him maintaining the premiership and would see his bitter rival Benjamin Netanyahu reclaim the top job after a little under a year and a half in the opposition.
Michaeli's orbit slammed the prime minister, claiming that while such a union would ensure both parties would be part of the next Knesset seat, it would diminish their combined overall power and that of the center-left bloc that supports him.
He suggested that teams discuss proposals for jobs and party slate placements, and Michali explained that there was no point in doing so since it was a matter of principle about the fact that a union would reduce the size of the bloc, a claim that Lapid had not contradicted until now," a source said.
The two parties have united before together with the now-defunct Gesher party in 2020 ahead of the elections for the 23rd Knesset — a short-lived marriage that produced a measly seven seats.
"The debate is about essence and not about jobs and party slate positioning," Labor said in a statement after Michaeli and Lapid's meeting.
"The union between the parties has been tried in the past and failed miserably. Up to this moment, we have not seen a single poll that shows that such a union would strengthen the bloc. There is no debate here about portfolios, but about protecting the bloc from Netanyahu's return."