Netanyahu tasked with forming government
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Livni. Will she soften and join government?
Photo: Ofer Amram
Schneller. Where will he have more influence?
Photo: Michal Petel

Kadima officials urge Livni to listen to Bibi

PM-designate, Kadima chairwoman to meet Sunday afternoon in bid to break the ice. Several of Livni's party members call on her to listen to Netanyahu's proposals for unity government before rushing into any decisions. MK Schneller: In the opposition we won't have as much influence

Several of Kadima's senior members say that the party should not rush into any decisions ahead of Chairwoman Tzipi Livni's meeting with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled to take place Sunday afternoon.


Despite the talks of a rotation arrangement as prime minister and about heading to the opposition, a senior Kadima member said Saturday night, "We must at least listen to what he has to offer, and make decisions afterwards."


Netanyahu, on his part, plans to be generous and offer Kadima a similar number of portfolios as his own party, the Likud.


The Likud chairman plans to offer Kadima three of the major portfolios: The Foreign Ministry, the Treasury or the Defense Ministry. If Kadima accepts the proposal, Livni is expected to remain foreign minister, while Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz will be given the Defense portfolio. Kadima will also demand that Dalia Itzik will continue serving as Knesset speaker.


A Likud official said that Netanyahu "will be ready to a long way in order to form a unity government in all fields, including in the distribution of the portfolios."


An aide to the prime minister-designate told Ynet that "the meeting between Livni and Netanyahu is aimed at breaking the ice and creating trust between them after the elections. Netanyahu will offer her a real and equal partnership between the Likud and Kadima, without getting into the details of the negotiations."


Netanyahu's associates made it clear that Kadima's demand that the Likud change its relations with the Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu parties and the demand for a rotation arrangement were "irrational".


According to one of the associates, "Netanyahu come with clean hands and wholeheartedly, and he really wants Kadima to join the government. He understands this is what he has to do, and this is what needs to be done."


A Likud official estimated that the coalition negotiations would be "tough and complicated. It won't be simple. Kadima is playing hard to get, and we believe Livni is serious. The picture will become clear in the end, but it will take time."


Referring to Livni and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak's refusal to be part of his government, Netanyahu told closed forums over the weekend, "I knew how to rise above like I promised and turn to them, although I could have made things easy for myself and formed a narrow government.


"I turned to them wholeheartedly, and now it's their turn to prove that the good of the country stands before they eyes, rather than their personal interests. They must prove that they really want to be part of this country's critical decisions."


'Some of us want to be part of government'

In the meantime, however, Livni insists she is heading to the opposition and signals that she has no intention of sitting in a government with the right-wing parties, which Netanyahu has defined as the Likud's natural partners.


Sources close to the Kadima chairwoman said that Livni would make it clear to Netanyahu that in order to launch negotiations with her party, he will have to change his statements on different matters, headed by the diplomatic one.


Livni is expected to demand that the Likud chairman make it clear in public that he supports the "two states for two people" solution, which he has refused to adopt so far.


"There won’t be any negotiations tomorrow," said a source close to Livni. "She will clarify to Netanyahu what she has made clear to the public and to the president in the past few days: The government, as Netanyahu sees it, is unacceptable to her."


The Kadima chairwoman is interested in taking part of the management of the state as part of a rotation arrangement between her and Netanyahu, with the Likud chairman serving as prime minister first throughout the first two years of the joint government.


Ahead of Sunday's meeting, quiet talks continued over the weekend between sources in Kadima and the Likud who are interested in a national unity government. Most of Kadima's senior officials have expressed their support for Livni's stance, but some are interested in listening to the Likud's offer before making a final decision.


Knesset Member Otniel Schneller, an associate of Minister Mofaz, told Ynet, "The truth is that no one really knows anything. We are waiting to see what will come out of Tzipi and Bibi's meeting. Most of the faction members are inclined to go to the opposition. Some of us aren’t so enthusiastic about it, but we'll wait to see what the meeting generates and then it will be easier to make decisions."


Schneller added that "there are advantages and disadvantages in regards to this matter. I want to see where things are headed, rather than make indefinite statements. We must see the considerations, the basic guidelines of the next government, and if there is any way we could influence them. We must remember that the opposition is the opposition and you don’t have as much influence there, but it's also important."


A source in Kadima noted that "ever since Livni announced that Kadima was headed to the opposition, several of the senior members disagree with her on this matter. There are some people who want to enter the government, while Livni rejects this option out of hand, unless Netanyahu makes a huge change before the start of the negotiations."


As part of the messages exchanges between senior Kadima and Likud members, Kadima is trying to convince Netanyahu to support a rotation arrangement which will enable to government to survive an entire tenure.


"Netanyahu must understand that a narrow government won't even last a year. With us he'll be able to serve as prime minister for two years and will be capable of governing," a source in Kadima concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 02.22.09, 07:48
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