Likud Beytenu Official: We Prefer Lapid Over Shas
The Likud Beytenu would prefer to form a coalition with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (Future) rather than Shas, a senior official in the party said on Sunday.
According to Channel 2 News, the official sent a message to Lapid which said that "if he gets a number of seats that could compensate for Shas's power, we would prefer to sit with him and not with them."
The Likud has been at odds with Shas during the election campaign and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated that he would not give the party the Interior and Housing Ministries in the next government.
The news comes in the wake of the weekend's developments in the political arena, which indicated that Lapid, along with Tzipi Livni and Labor head Shelly Yechimovich, may attempt to form an 'obstructive bloc' to Netanyahu.
The idea was first suggested by Tzipi Livni in a television interview on Friday night and backed by Yechimovich. Lapid shot down the idea of forming an anti-Likud bloc with Labor and Livni's party at first, but then gave it his conditional consent.
Lapid wrote on his Facebook page that he would meet Yechimovich and Livni, but added, "I have no interest in joining a 'blocking bloc' because it is not my habit to boycott people and parties."
Later Saturday he said, however, in a television interview, that if none of the centrist parties enter a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, neither would he. Speaking on Channel 2's Meet the Press, he said that if Tzipi Livni commits not to enter the Netanyahu government, he will also not enter it. However, he again suggested that Yesh Atid, Labor and Livni enter a "unity government" with Netanyahu.
On Sunday, Lapid indicated that "there is no way to create a bloc" and that he was not part of the Livni-Yechimovich move.
Yechimovich and Livni have yet to meet on the issue, but on Sunday the Labor leader conditioned the forming of an obstructive bloc on Livni and Lapid stating they would not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu.
"As long as Livni and Lapid do not say explicitly that they will not enter the Netanyahu government, it's like having it both ways," she said at the University of Haifa.
"Creating a common front with Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid could be of great importance, and one that will plant a great hope," added Yechimovich. "The public must know that we speak the truth and we will do everything to avoid another term of the Netanyahu government."
Lapid said last week that his party would not join a nationalist government headed by Netanyahu but would consider joining a Netanyahu-led coalition if it was "a moderate, centrist government."
Yechimovich publicly stated last week that she would only join a government with Netanyahu if she stood at its helm, as prime minister.
Livni has refused to publicly state that she will not join a government led by Netanyahu, despite Netanyahu having said in interviews that he would not allow Livni to be his Foreign Minister, a position she greatly desires.