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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Livni says she won't sit in Netanyahu-led government

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party are announcing to anyone that will listen that they will not sit in a government led by Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud.
"Today, the foundations of a right-wing extremist government under Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu were set," Kadima said in a statement. "Such a government is not our path and we have nothing to look for there."

"They didn't vote for us in order to provide a certificate for a right-wing government and we need to provide an alternative of hope from the opposition," continued the statement. "Kadima will continue to fight for its beliefs and its path - an agenda based on two states for two peoples, and one that also includes dealing with vital civilian issues."

According to sources at Beit Hanassi [President's Residence], Peres will invite Livni and Netanyahu to meet with him in person on Friday.
That meeting is to take place before Peres assigns to one of them Netanyahu the task of forming a government. And at this point, it must be Netanyahu, because 65 MK's - a majority of the house - told Peres that Netanyahu should get the task. While Peres can urge Livni and Netanyahu to sit together, he cannot legally require them to do so, nor can he condition the delegation of the task to Netanyahu on Livni being in the government. And while in his heart Peres may wish that he could assign the task to Netanyahu (after all, Peres is a long-time Laborite who switched to Kadima in 2006), even Peres understands that he cannot afford to have the country take the risk of paralysis that could ensue if he gave the task to Livni.

Livni's branding of Netanyahu's potential government as "right-wing extremist" is comical. Yisrael Beiteinu was part of the current government led by Kadima for much of its term and Shas still is a part of the government.

So what is Livni's game? There are a few factors in play here.

1. Livni believes that if she lets Netanyahu form a government of 65 MK's on the right, the government will fall and there will be new elections in a year. Maybe. But the current government has been in power for nearly three years despite having lost a war in the summer of 2006 and despite the widest panoply of corruption charges ever presented against a government minister - let alone the Prime Minister - in this country's history.

2. Livni has her heart set on being Prime Minister. She is an extremely stubborn person and does not react well to having to change in mid-course.

3. Livni and Kadima are trying to make sure that the price for Kadima entering the government doesn't drop. While Netanyahu will not concede a 'rotation' to Livni, he has offered her just about anything else to enter the government to this point. It's been called 'equality' in the media here. Livni wants both the foreign ministry for herself and the defense ministry for Mofaz (to avoid fights with her own number 2) if she enters the government). Lieberman has also asked for one of the big four ministries - the one that would be left if Kadima takes foreign and defense would be finance in which Lieberman has no interest. Livni is trying to save her own and her party's position in the new government. But as I have pointed out several times over the course of the last week, there are many scenarios in which Netanyahu does not need Livni and Kadima.

But this is what she said:
Responding to Israel Beiteinu's endorsement during a tour of the South, Livni had implied that Kadima would not join a government led by Likud.

"Politics are not only numbers, but a path," she said. "I will continue not only believing in our way, but also leading it, and I don't intend to become a fig-leaf for diplomatic paralysis. There is a path, and Israel should walk it."
Ironic words for the leader of a party with no ideology, aren't they? But what's most amazing - and frankly satisfying to me - is watching how Labor and the Left have thrown Livni to the wolves.
Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines reacted to the endorsement with a harsh attack on Kadima.

"Kadima's dismissal of a possible attempt to achieve a victory for the Center and left-wing bloc is a pathetic attempt to claim 'victory,' and the fatal wooing of Lieberman led to this lamentable result," he said in a statement.

"Kadima baked a cake, and will now have to eat it, perhaps at a future victory party," mocked Paz-Pines.

Earlier, Labor chairman Ehud Barak announced that his party would not endorse any candidate for prime minister and would opt to head for the opposition.

"The electorate has given the word," Barak said at the opening of a Labor faction meeting. "The picture is complicated and disturbing when Israel Beiteinu is the one to recommend who Israel's next prime minister will be. We are left with only one option, and that is to decide not to recommend anyone for the premiership."

Labor joins Meretz and the three Arab parties in deciding to remain in the opposition no matter who forms a government, to protest the assurances that Kadima gave Israel Beiteinu in pursuit of Lieberman's endorsement.
Arutz Sheva has a list of Kadima MK's who have said that the party will go into opposition.

YNet notes - ironically - that Livni spoke while touring the Sderot Kassam museum with another loser: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (see picture at right).

6 Comments:

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Shy Guy said...

Mighty fine whine!

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

what are the chances that some former likud Kadimaniks jump ship back over to Likud to up that 65 number?

Lieberman as FM and Yaalon as DM looking likely?

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

J. Lichty,

I would bet on some former Likudniks jumping back to their old party - most notably Mofaz.

I believe that either Lieberman will end up as foreign minister or Netanyahu will cut a deal with Barak to return as defense minister and keep Lieberman and his party out of the government altogether.

Netanyahu always wanted a broad coalition with Labor - not with Kadima.

I've discussed this in previous posts.

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ehud Barak didn't say yes but he didn't say no either. He has a price like every one else and if Bibi is willing to pay it, he'll discover he can sit in the goverment with Lieberman or preferably without him just too needle Tzipi Livni on her lack of principle and to drive home the fact the person she didn't meet with was him and not Lieberman. That's a personal slight Barak won't forget. I can imagine whose phone call he is waiting for right now and are odds are good it won't be from Livni since he didn't recommend her, the natural gal from the Left, for Prime Minister.

Heh

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger lance said...

Great photo of Livni!

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Lance,

Which one? :-)

 

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