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Erdan: Livni Won't be Part of Peace Talks

Minister Gilad Erdan in television interview: Netanyahu told me that if Livni joins coalition, she won't take part in peace talks.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/4/2013, 6:42 AM

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Flash 90

After Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich and Yair Lapid both announced their parties will not be part of a coalition led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud appeared on Thursday evening to be closing the door to Tzipi Livni as well.

Recent reports indicated that Netanyahu had made clear to several of his senior staff that no talks were taking place with Livni or other members of her Hatnua ("The Movement") party, and that the chances of her joining the next government with him as Prime Minister were nil.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan appeared to confirm the report on Thursday when he said during an appearance on the "Mishal Cham" program on Channel 2 that in any case, even if Livni's party joins the coalition, she will not be involved in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian Authority.

Erdan made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of Netanyahu, saying that Netanyahu had personally assured him that Livni "will not take part in any negotiations with the Palestinians."

The comments were made during a debate between Erdan and Amir Peretz, who left the Labor party several weeks ago in order to join Livni.

Peretz, who just last month expressed confidence that Livni would never join a coalition led by Netanyahu, refused to declare that he would oppose his new party joining a government led by Netanyahu. Instead of providing a clear answer on this issue, Peretz kept insisting that he "believes in Tzipi Livni and her values".

He also said that still did not believe the leader of his former party, Shelly Yechimovich, who said earlier on Thursday that she will not sit in a government headed by Netanyahu. Peretz left Labor over disagreements with Yechimovich, who had ousted him from chairing Labor in internal party elections, and who until Thursday, refused to clearly state she would not join a Likud-led government.

"I did not believe her then and I do not believe her even now," Peretz said, adding, "I do not believe Yechimovich's scale of values. It looks as though the Labor party's march of folly begins today, because of all this zigzagging."

The interview with Erdan and Peretz aired after Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid (Future) party, announced Thursday evening that his party would not join a nationalist government headed by Likud-Yisrael Beytenu.

"To all those who asked," he wrote on his Facebook page, "Of course we will not sit as a fifth wheel in a government of Shas and the extreme right."

The latest statements by Yechimovich and Lapid and, assuming that Livni would not want to join a government in which she is not given an important position, mean that Netanyahu would likely not have a choice other than forming a coalition with Shas and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) led by Naftali Bennett.

The weekly poll taken on behalf of Kol Yisrael radio by the Geocartographia polling organization and released Thursday gave the Jewish Home as many as 18 seats, as the party has gained momentum since Bennett was elected to lead it.

At the same time, the Likud has chosen to directly attack both Bennett and Shas, which now seem to be its only possible partners in the next coalition, afraid that it will lose too many seats to them and be in a weaker coalition-negotiating position..

The latest campaign against the Jewish Home portrays some members of its list as being against the inclusion of women, ignoring the fact that there are no less than four women in the first 18 spots on the Jewish Home list, while the Likud-Beytenu combined list has one in the first 12 spots.

The Likud has also targeted Shas, with Netanyahu threatening to take away the Housing Ministry from the party in the next coalition.