Livni Calls for Center-Left Unity
Tzipi Livni, who heads the Hatnua party, called on Friday for unity in the center-left bloc.
Speaking to Channel 2 News, Livni, who previously rejected offers to join either the Labor party led by Shelly Yechimovich or Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party because she refused to be their number two, said she would be willing to put aside "personal considerations" if an agreement was reached among the three parties.
"Netanyahu can be the outgoing Prime Minister, he does not have to be the incoming one," she said, adding, "If this team is elected again, a disaster will happen here. They cannot make decisions. That's why today, exactly for this reason, we can win the battle, we must not give up. I call on Shelly (Yechimovich) and Yair (Lapid) - Let's sit together, let's decide how to win this battle now, once we do that all undecided the people will come and join forces with us."
Livni added, "We have to sit down together on Saturday night or Sunday and decide what to do. I believe that Israel is in danger if a right-wing-hareidi-extremist government is established.
"I announce in advance that I am putting any personal considerations aside," she said. "I can give a speech about my experience in making decisions and about the people who are with me, and yet I will still walk into the room with an understanding that certain decisions must be reached."
The remarks come a day after Yechimovich said that she will not sit in a government headed by Netanyahu. She was followed by Lapid, who announced that his party would not join a nationalist government headed by Likud-Yisrael Beytenu.
Livni's party did not make a statement to that effect but Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said during a television interview on Thursday evening that even if Livni's party joins a Netanyahu-led 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 only possible way to evade a Netanyahu-led government is if Livni, Lapid and Yechimovich agree that their parties would recommend to the President after the election that one of them should form the coalition. So far, however, such unity has been impossible because all three have refused to put their egos aside.
Livni's sudden willingness to give up on being the leader of the bloc likely comes as a result of recent polls that have shown the Likud Beytenu losing seats at the expense of the Jewish Home. Labor has remained the second largest party according to the polls, while Livni and Lapid have averaged between nine and 11 seats.
However, a Friday poll in Ma'ariv showed the Likud Beytenu regaining its losses this week, ending with enough support to win 36 Knesset seats. Previous polls showed the party dropping to 33 seats.
Yechimovich was quick to respond to Livni's offer in a statement released shortly after her interview on Channel 2 and which said, "I have invited Livni for a meeting at my house tomorrow. I express satisfaction with the fact that Livni is joining the move. As more and more people understand, there is a real chance that the Labor Party will form the next government and it seems that the process is beginning to take shape."
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon also welcomed Livni's comments, saying, "Meretz will support a move of establishing an obstructive bloc to Bibi, and if the leaders of the three parties indeed decide on one candidate and will undertake to stop this dangerous right-wing government, we will recommend to the President this candidate for Prime Minister."
The Likud, meanwhile, released a statement saying, "It is clear that the left is trying to unite to overthrow the Netanyahu government and the national camp."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)