The leftist Meretz-Yachad party would not join any coalition that includes rightist parties, Chairman Yossi Beilin told Ynet Saturday.
"We won't sit in the government with any rightist party," he said. "The next coalition seems very clear to me."
Referring to the additional Knesset seat awarded to Meretz and to Kadima following the final vote count, Beilin said the extra mandates were "very important, because they allow (Acting Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert to form a coalition of 61 members with Labor, us, and the Pensioners party."
"At the end, I see a coalition that includes Kadima, Labor, us, the pensioners, Shas, and united Torah Judaism," Beilin said.
On Sunday, the leftist leader is scheduled to meet with Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz in Tel Aviv, who will later meet with leader of the Pensioners party, Rafi Eitan, all in a bid to form a "social front" ahead of the formation of the coalition.
Meretz will recommend to President Katsav that Peretz be tasked with forming the next government, but Beilin rejects the possibility that Meretz would join a Labor-led coalition along with right-wing parties in order keep Olmert from becoming the next prime minister.
"The coalition being talked about now with right-wing parties is irrelevant, not for Meretz, and not in terms of common sense," he said. "We committed ourselves to not joining such government, and it's not even up for consideration. Such government only exists on paper."
Merger with Labor? maybe
Turning his attention to Olmert, Beilin says he believes the Kadima leader does not intend to waste time before moving ahead on the diplomatic front.
"A government with the Right cannot push Olmert's plan forward. If he wishes to set permanent borders, he'll have to set up a coalition with us," Beilin says. "He has nothing else. I have a basis for hoping he won't form a coalition only to remain in power."
Regarding the plans to set up a "social bloc," the Meretz chairman says the plan is serious, as long as right-wing parties remain outside such coalition.
"For me, this coalition can only include centrist and leftist parties," he said. "If Amir (Peretz) creates a coalition with Shas, United Torah Judaism, the Arabs and the pensioners, I have no problem with that. Otherwise, we won't be there."
Addressing talk about a Meretz merger with Labor, Beilin does not dismiss the possibility out of hand.
"I always said I'm in favor of a large leftist bloc. I haven't changed my mind. In the past I was rejected by both parties," he says, but adds: "We believe we're relevant. There's no serious offer on the part of the Labor party. If we wanted to go for the formation of a united front earlier, we would have done so."
"I don't think it's right that Meretz will give up and go for a merger with Labor," Beilin says, but notes: "Under certain circumstances I wouldn't reject the possibility."