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      Livni and Barak Say No, Netanyahu Not Giving Up

      Netanyahu refuses to accept Livni’s and Barak’s no for an answer, and says he won’t give up trying to form a national unity government.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 2/23/2009, 1:08 PM

      Both Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labor have turned down Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu’s offer for a national unity government. However, Netanyahu says, “I have no intention of giving up my efforts to bring about a unity government."

      Netanyahu met with Barak on Monday morning, and asked him to join the government he would like to form. Barak said afterwards that he told Netanyahu, “The voters have sent us to the opposition, and we will honor this call.” He said that he and Netanyahu had discussed the “challenges that face the State of Israel diplomatically, economically, and domestically. I expanded on the current needs of the security establishment.”

      The two will meet again by request of Netanyahu.

      Netanyahu met on Sunday night with Livni, who also expressed her party’s opposition to joining a unity government – though she left a slight opening for further exploration of this option.

      Though the Labor faction in the Knesset has decided to join the opposition, Barak himself has been rumored to be interested in exploring other options. There has even been speculation that Barak would follow in the footsteps of the late Moshe Dayan, who left Labor on his own in 1977 to join the Likud government – though this is considered a long-shot.

      Following his meeting with Barak, Netanyahu said, “We are in a time of crisis; Iran’s nuclear program is not waiting for us, and neither is the financial crisis. We must join forces. We must put aside the regular politics, and make every effort to unite Israel in light of the crises we face.”

      Netanyahu's natural nationalist coalition of 65 MKs would be comprised of the following parties: Likud (27), Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home, 15), Shas (11), United Torah Judaism (5), National Union (4), and Jewish Home (3).

      A Likud source quoted by Ynet said, “Netanyahu truly doesn’t want a narrow government, as opposed to some of his advisors. He believes that it is not the right thing to do politically or publicly.”

      Yesha Council
      Many in the nationalist camp do not agree. The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, for instance, issued the following Sunday night statement: “We congratulate Binyamin Netanyahu… who said many times in the past months that the policy of withdrawals had ended and that no Jewish community would be uprooted. We note with satisfaction that an absolute majority of the voters voted for parties that promised to work to strengthen the settlement enterprise and against the policy of retreats… The Council expects the government that will be formed to return to the Zionist ‘high road’ of developing the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.”

      “They’re Three, and We’re Only Ten!”
      Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the rabbi of Har Brachah in Samaria, wrote in B’Sheva this week, “The story is told of ten Jewish youths walking down a dark road in a Russian town, when suddenly they came upon three Russian youths. The Jews became frightened and said to each other, ‘What will we do? There are three of them, but we’re all alone!’ This story is reminiscent of Netanyahu’s behavior, as he nervously and worriedly asks himself, ‘What shall I do? The entire left, 44 MKs, are against me, while the nationalist camp only has 65…’ Why should Netanyahu be afraid? If he remains loyal to the Land of Israel, he is guaranteed to enjoy a stable majority. Why should he not lead, one time, a genuine Jewish policy?”

      Likud Editorial: Say No to Kadima Government
      An editorial on the Likudnik website opines: “There is no better word to describe Netanyahu’s approach to Livni other than subservience. To offer Kadima Foreign Affairs and Defense, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and veto rights over all government decisions is a total deviation from coalition negotiation norms between a Prime Minister-designate and a party that he wishes to include… It is important to emphasize this. Many say that there is nothing wrong with including Kadima as long as the Prime Minister is from the Likud and the ruling party is the Likud. But when Kadima is offered nearly half the government portfolios, including two top ones, it means that no decision can be made without Kadima’s agreement. This means that the government policies will be, in essence, those of Kadima – simply because anything they don’t accept will not be implemented.”