"The coalition and the government have reached the end of the road and this appeal is aimed at saving them, not at saving the country. The Likud will continue supporting the government only when the State's favor is concerned," a senior Likud source said.
One of the officials added that in spite of the publications in the media, the Likud received no official appeal from the prime minister on the issue.
Netanyahu's associates responded to the initiative with suspicion: "What reason do we have to enter this government now, with Kadima looking the way it does and the government looking the way it does. Entering the government is aimed at saving it. There is no reason to do so. An emergency government is established during war, not after. We must let this government collapse, rather than save it."
Even Silvan Shalom, who urged the Likud to join the coalition following the elections, said that the Likud should not save the government. Netanyahu continues to keep quiet, understanding that his stakes are rising, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz are being crushed in the polls.
Elections next spring?
And what about Avigdor Lieberman? In a conversation with Ynet last week, the Israel Our Home chairman estimated that the elections would be held next spring.
Lieberman said that "nothing is progressing on the issue of entering the government, and the chances we are in it are one to 100."
Lieberman would like to enter the government, but he is unable to do so while the Labor Party is part of it. Therefore, he estimates that Olmert would not have to political courage to disrupt plans and change the government, which will be composed of right-wing parties.
The Knesset speaker sent letters to the faction leaders – Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home), Benyamin Elon (National Union-National Religious Party), Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and Yossi Beilin (Meretz) – calling on them to join a national emergency government.
This is not the first time the Knesset speaker calls for the establishment of such a government, but this time she decided to personally turn to the faction heads in order to launch immediate negotiations for the parties to join a national emergency government.
She wrote that the emergency government would focus on a number of goals with complete consensus: Fixing the deficiencies discovered during the war and a full preparation of the security forces for another round of war, rehabilitating the north, continuing to run the diplomatic campaign on the Lebanon issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, and the issue of fighting radical Islam, a thorough treatment of the gaps created in the Israeli society throughout the recent years, and a deep and serious examination of the electorcal system in Israel in a bid to guarantee governmental stability.
Meretz Faction Chairman MK Zahava Gal-On said that Meretz opposed the initiative.
According to Gal-On, "when missiles fell and the home front collapsed and soldiers were killed, it was an emergency. Today the threat on the coalition's stability is not a situation that entails an emergency government."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report