Front-running prime ministerial candidate Binyamin Netanyahu told foreign diplomats over the weekend that he does not plan to form an "extremist right-wing" government, if elected in the February 10th elections.
Netanyahu’s remarks appear to be a reaction to accusations by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, running at the head of the Kadima Party, that if Netanyahu is elected, he will form “an extremist right-wing government” that will “lead to a split between Israel and the United States.”
The Likud has long been leading in polls, and Netanyahu is expected to receive the nod from President Shimon Peres to form Israel’s next government. Netanyahu first became Prime Minister following the 1996 elections, when he defeated then-Labor Party head Shimon Peres.
The “extremist right-wing” government that Netanyahu says he will not form would include the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman and the National Union headed by Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz. Such a government is diametrically opposed to the government that Netanyahu has been saying for months that he seeks to form.
On Oct. 26, 2008, for instance, the Likud leader told the Knesset, "When I win the election, I will invite Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak to join us in a national unity government, together with our partners."
A senior Likud source was quoted in Maariv/NRG as explaining that Netanyahu did not mean both Labor and Kadima, but rather one of them. “Whatever government we form, we will be the balance of power,” the source said.
National Union: Strong Nationalist Camp is Crucial
Some in the nationalist camp do not believe Netanyahu. National Union leader Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz said on Sunday, “Only a large National Union to the right of Netanyahu will help him not fall into the hands of the left. The larger the National Union is, the more blatant will be the orange [nationalist] color in the mosaic of the Netanyahu government.”
At a National Union meeting on Sunday morning, it was decided that the party would be willing to join any nationalist government formed by Netanyahu. It was reported at the meeting that contacts between Netanyahu aides and National Union leaders were underway.
Likud Event on Tuesday
This Tuesday night, the Likud will hold a major campaign event at the Jerusalem Convention Center (Binyanei HaUmah), featuring all of its Knesset candidates. The Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the party, headed by Moshe Feiglin, has invited all Manhigut members to attend.
“The candidates must see with their own eyes the loyal public that stands behind them,” Feiglin wrote to his supporters. “When you joined the Likud, you acquired not only a ticket to watch the game, but also to take part. So come with your friends and family."
Asked by Israel National News to comment on Netanyahu’s latest remarks regarding a unity government, Feiglin said, “Netanyahu has been saying this for a while. Our job is to make sure that within the party faction there are enough nationalist MKs who will prevent Netanyahu from carrying out dangerous moves.”
Ketzaleh said in response, "Voting for the Likud will only bring in more left-wing candidates in slots that might otherwise not get in. The National Union, on the other hand, could get 10 seats!"
Click here to read more about the Ketzaleh-Feiglin debate.