Photo: AP

Bibi wants Barak, Lieberman in his government

Likud Chairman tells close associates he wants Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu to join his government should he win elections; earlier, Bibi praises Barak over Gaza war, says Israel has no choice but to uproot Hamas from Strip

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told his close associates Wednesday evening that he will aim to bring both Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman into his government should he win the upcoming elections.


"The government's Basic Lines would enable Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor to join Likud," Netanyahu said in closed-door sessions. "They already sat in the same government and there is no reason that, given the Basic Lines, they won't do it again."


Meanwhile, the Likud leader and premiership frontrunner made it clear that Lieberman will certainly join his government, saying he was "100% sure" Yisrael Beiteinu would be part of the governing coalition. Netanyahu was expected to unequivocally declare his intention in an elections event Wednesday evening.


Bibi praises Barak

Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu lauded barak in a conference in Herzliya, saying "I would like to praise the chief of staff and express my esteem for the defense minister for the preparation work (ahead of Operation Cast Lead) and for  IDF soldiers."


Netanyahu, however, did not hold back on criticism of the government for "stopping the operation too soon", saying "It did not allow IDF soldiers to finish the job."


Kadima officials accused Labor and Likud of setting up a shady deal intended to secure Barak's position in Netanyahu's government if he is elected to the office of prime minister. However, the Labor party rejected Kadima's acharges.


In his speech Wednesday, Netanyahu accused the government of "not stopping the southern loophole through which Hamas is obtaining more and more rockets. Neglecting the Philadelphi Route and the highway that was opened there, the restraint against the rocket attacks - this policy has brought no peace and no white doves.


"A few rockets, Qassam showers, and later a storm of Grads and Qassams, and after thousands of rockets the government finally launches a wide-scale military operation," he said.


Iranian threat

The Opposition leader told those present there was no choice but to uproot the Hamas leadership in Gaza, saying "Hamas is not a terror organization that will stop if we deal it a few blows. It's a fanatic religious movement supported by a fanatic religious Iranian regime. So if we want to stop rockets from Gaza, there is no choice but to uproot the Iranian regime in Gaza."


Further addressing the Iranian threat, Netanyahu said: "Yesterday we got another reminder – Iran launched a satellite into space, it is upgrading its ballistic missiles, and is racing towards nuclear weapons.


"It declares its desire to wipe us off the face of the earth and is renewing the rocket arsenals of Hamas in the south and Hizbullah in the north. The Iranian missile and terror threat is the greatest threat facing the State of Israel," he said.


'Small economy an advantage'

Next, Netanyahu discussed the global economic crisis: "This is another challenge we are facing. It's an enormous crisis. I was in Davos and spoke to top global economists who foresaw the crisis.


"No one expects us to sink and rise immediately. Estimates say it will take between two to four years. It's a U-curve. And if this is really the situation, we have a clear advantage, since our economy is small. It is not a large part, but a drop in the global economic ocean."


Less then a week ahead of elections, Netanyahu expressed confidence in his victory: "I believe that in a few days the citizens of Israel will choose to end the era of weakness and enter the era of empowerment.


"I believe that on Tuesday they will put an end to the era of illusion and weakness. This is the essence of the policies that I and my colleagues represent," he said.


Roni Sofer contributed to the story


פרסום ראשון: 02.04.09, 19:05
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