Livni says won't join Netanyahu-led government
Kadima chairwoman ends meeting with prime minister-designate after Likud leader refuses to commit to two-state solution. 'This is a matter of principle,' Livni says, vowing to act as 'a responsible opposition'. Likud MK Sa'ar: Livni torpedoing unity out of personal motives
Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni ended her meeting with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, after the latter refused to include the "two states for two people solution" in his government's basic guidelines.
"Two states (one for the Israelis and one of the Palestinians) is not an empty slogan," Livni said as she left the meeting. "Unity is not just sitting in a government together. It also means sharing a way."
The two officials met at a Tel Aviv hotel for about two hours.
"I came to meet with the Likud chairman for a second time in order to hear about his vision and the way he wishes to implement. Israel is facing challenges. I told him Kadima would support any right moves by the government.
"In order to deal with the challenges I wanted three fundamental things which you are aware of," she said. "Two states is not an empty slogan. It's the only way Israel can remain Jewish and fight terror. It's a matter of principle.
"We discussed the issues. I didn't see any commitment on Bibi's part to these issues. The meeting ended without any understandings, and we cannot be part of Netanyahu's government," Livni stated, vowing to act as "a responsible opposition".
Livni and Netanyahu, Friday (Photo: Yaron Brener)
After the meeting Netanyahu said that even during the elections campaign he had promised to form a unity government.
"I appealed to Mrs. Livni and told her that. Unity calls for compromise. I was willing to make compromises in her favor – I proposed to her that we write the basic guidelines together, an equal number of portfolios, two out of three," he said.
"I said that I plan to promote negotiations (with the Palestinians) and I said that we would promote civil marriage and also a change of the governmental system. I believe the gaps can be bridged. I was met with complete refusal for unity on her part, and refusal to set up teams. I saw no willingness for unity in Livni," the Likud chairman added.
'Livni torpedoing unity out of personal motives'
MK Gideon Sa'ar, head of the Likud's coalitional negotiations team accused Livni of operating on personal motives.
"During the elections campaign, both Bibi and Tzipi said they wanted unity. Livni has adamantly refused unity. She has not even agreed to setting up teams. Unity means compromise. Livni is torpedoing unity out of personal motives," he said.
The Likud member continued to say that "Livni would not even say in the meeting that she was not demanding rotation. The words 'Palestinian state' are not in the Kadima-headed outgoing government's basic guidelines. Livni's demand in this matter is meant to disarm Netanayahu of the possibility of setting up a rightist government."
The Likud leader's associates made it clear before the meeting that he would not accept the "two states for two people" formula. Senior Kadima officials clarified that Netanyahu's commitment to a peace process was insufficient, stressing that the world now views the Annapolis process as the foundation of any negotiations.
"There is no other process apart from this one, and the saying that Netanyahu supports a diplomatic process is insufficient and will not serve as a basis for Kadima's inclusion in the government instead of an explicit statement addressing the process' nature," one of the Kadima officials said.
Knesset Member Tzachi Hangebi, one of Kadima's senior members, told Ynet before the meeting, "We are heading to the opposition, for certain. Something really dramatic will have to take place for this to change."
Various sources who have spoken to Netanyahu this week found it difficult to determine whether he was optimistic ahead of his meeting with Livni. One of them stated, however, that "it appears that he plans to make more compromises. He really wants Kadima to join the government and to establish a wide government."