Netanyahu-Livni meeting
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Ehud Barak
Photo: Dudu Azulay
Netanyahu meets in private with Barak
After failed meeting with Kadima chairwoman, prime minister-designate continues to look into possibilities for wide unity government, this time with Labor leader. At end of meeting Barak says his party will go to opposition, Netanyahu states will meet with Livni and Barak once again
After his meeting Sunday with Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni was said to have been unsuccessful, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met with Labor Chairman Ehud Barak on Monday morning in a bid to look into possibilities for a wide unity government.


The two officials met in private at a Jerusalem hotel. Barak said after the meeting, "The voter sent Labor to the opposition, and that’s where we'll go."


Netanyahu, on the other hand, said, "I have not given up on the efforts to form a wide government in light of the challenges, led by Iran. I will meet with Livni and Barak once again."


Labor officials claimed Sunday night that Barak was attempting to examine the possibility of having the party join a Netanyahu-led coalition. Barak's office strongly rejected the claims, saying that the defense minister planned to lead Labor in the opposition.


A senior party official said that "the chance we'll join a government like the one Bibi appears to be forming now is very low."


The Likud chairman would like to see Kadima join his government, but even Netanyahu's associates have said that if they had to advise Livni on how to act in the face of the political reality created after the elections, they would advise her not to enter the government and to lead the opposition.

Barak and Netanyahu (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Sources close to Netanyahu told Ynet that an analysis of the political situation presented to the prime minister-designate had taken into the account the possibility that Livni would decide not to join his government.


"Such a situation," one of the sources told Netanyahu, "would leave you with a right-wing government comprised of 65 Knesset members, which will be hated both in Israel and abroad.


"From a political point of view, Livni is doing the right thing by not joining a government led by you. She is relaying on the hope that such a government would not last long."


Several of Netanyahu's right-wing advisors believe that a rightist government "is not as frightening as depicted by the media." But the Likud chairman himself, who already headed a right-wing government in the past, and was criticized in Israel and abroad, fears the ramifications of such a government and is therefore trying to form a wide coalition with Kadima.


"He really doesn’t like the idea of a narrow government," said a source close to Netanyahu. "As opposed to some of his advisors, he believes a narrow right-wing government is wrong from a political point of view, as well as from the public's point of view."


First published: 23.02.09, 10:11
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