The union between the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties is fueled by fear, former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni charged on Sunday.
“The Likud was once a liberal nationalist movement, and in recent years the liberalism disappeared and the nationalism became extreme nationalism,” said Livni, who defected from the Likud in 2005, along with several other MKs, when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed Kadima.
“Instead of a shared vision, they are trying to cling to fear,” she added, speaking during a Green Movement conference in Tel Aviv.
"Israel needs a dramatic change,” said Livni. “They present the public with all kinds of words like governance and stability, and it’s the public's right to come and ask: stability and governance to do what? What is the purpose and what are the values?”
Livni continued, “The Likud Central Committee tomorrow will not discuss the values but the numbers, the numbers of seats. For four years we have seen the politics of survival and fear. They fed the citizens with fear from outside enemies, which turned to anger and hostility toward parts of our society. Instead of unity around fear, we need unity around a vision and a Zionist common denominator which will be taught in all schools.”
Livni, who has yet to announce her plans for the election, said, “My consideration today is not which place I’ll get and in which party. The test is whether and how to translate the vision and the will into a dramatic change.”
In the wake of the unity between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, there have been growing calls for Israel’s center-left parties to unite and present an alternative to the government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
On Friday, former MK Haim Ramon, one of the founders of Kadima, called for such unity, claiming that the union in the right means the Likud will become “an extreme right-wing government with hareidim and settlers."
“This will be the last battle for the image of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” he charged. “We want to avoid a government that will lead us to a bi-national state and the most swinish capitalism we’ve ever had here, an alliance with an extreme right-wing agenda."
Ramon quit Kadima last May soon after it joined a unity government with Netanyahu. He announced several months ago that he will establish a new centrist party to compete with Kadima. It has been reported that Livni may head Ramon's party.
However, unity in the center-left is not a likely scenario since the parties do not agree on much.
Meanwhile, polls released Sunday suggested that the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu joint list may not be worth it. A Channel 10 poll showed the united parties getting 35 seats, seven fewer than their combined strength now. A poll by Channel Two showed the party doing much better, with 42 seats, the same as the total predicted for them if they run separately.
MKs in the Likud who are opposed to the election list merger are trying to arrange a secret ballot on the merger at Monday's Likud Central Committee meeting.