Netanyahu, has the upper hand?
Photo: Yaron Brener
Yishai, to support Bibi?
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Bar-On, 'What is he thinking?'
Photo: Amit Shaal
Final results for Tuesday's elections are yet to be announced, but Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is not wasting any time.
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai on Wednesday for initial talks towards the formation of a rightist bloc. YIshai has said in the past that he would support Netanyahu for prime minister.
'The land of Israel does not belong to the Right, just as peace does not belong to the Left,' says Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni as she calls on rival Netanyahu to enter national unity government under her leadership
Netanyahu on Wednesday appointed advocate Yaakov Ne'eman to head a small team that would handle direct coalitional negotiations.
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) told Ynet on Wednesday, "It's legitimate for Netanyahu to try, but this is unprecedented. Livni won the elections. What is Netanyahu thinking? That he can speak with all the factions today, put them on a piece of paper, and determine the fate of the State for four years?"
The morning after official results were announced, a realistic Bar-On said it was clear that his party, Kadima, was facing a rightist bloc, despite winning one mandate more than Likud.
"The situation is definitely problematic," Bar-On said, "Before we even manage to decipher the results of the elections we are already talking about the next elections."
The minister said, "The results and the possibility that Netanyahu may form a government are problematic on their own. If it's an extreme rightist government as he wants or as he needs, then it will be a national paralysis government.
"Lieberman, Shas, and the National Union are no suckers. They will want a signed coalition agreement according to the principles they represent. So what's the point? He will still turn to Kadima looking for legitimacy."
The minister continued to say that one of the greatest challenges facing the next government is the global economic crisis. "How does Bibi (Netanyahu) plan on forming a government that will pass a budget with such forces? Everyone will want to sink their teeth into the budget.
"Netanyahu understands this. After his great achievements in Sharon's government in 2003, where we were a force of 76 MKs, now he wants to close a deal with parties that each have an interest in the budget, during a much more serious economic crisis. I don't know if he can do it."
Just like Likud, Bar-On ruled out the possibility of having a rotation government. The minister said it was clear that Kadima would have to form the next government.
"I do not accept the need for rotation as a given. The party that won the majority of mandates should form the next government. I would also like to add that Lieberman is not in Bibi's pocket," he said, stressing that "no one knows who the next prime minister will be".
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report