Prime-Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni met at Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel Sunday night for the first time since the recent general elections and just two days after President Shimon Peres tasked the Likud leader with forming the next government.
"Tonight and over recent days efforts have been made to establish a unity government before the challenges and dangers facing Israel. This is the will of the people," Netanyahu told reporters following the hour-and-a-half long meeting, which was held behind closed doors.
"We must unite forces in honor of common goals – peace, prosperity, and security. If we want to find the points of unity it's possible, and even necessary. We can and must find a common path."
However, Netanyahu later told aides he was convinced Kadima would not join a Likud-led coalition, adding that "nothing will come out (of the negotiations)."
Livni and Netanyahu at Jerusalem hotel (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Livni, for her part, said "there are some serious conflicts on political issues," adding that Netanyahu had not replied positively to the question of whether he would strive for a two-state solution. "It's significant to me," she said.
According to the Kadima leader, nothing had changed during the meeting. "There is no reason to assemble negotiating teams," she said.
A Netanyahu aide said "there were agreements on certain subjects, but Livni was adamant on the subject of two states for two peoples. Netanyahu told Livni she should not latch onto this formula at this time and that other ways could be found to define the political subject with the Palestinians."
Netanyahu reportedly guaranteed Livni a key role in the next government. "I intend to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians which you will participate in," he told her.
Earlier, Livni told a Kadima faction meeting that the party would not sit in a coalition together with Netanyahu's "natural partners", including the rightist factions and the religious Shas Party.
She was backed my most fraction members, but Minister Shaul Mofaz, placed second on Kadima's Knesset roster, said "there is no exaltation in the opposition. The citizens want us to have an impact, and we won't let the extreme right lead the process."