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Livni Attacks Bennett in Heated Elevator Argument

Emotional incident indicates chances of coalition between the two parties are not great.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/19/2013, 7:18 PM

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Flash 90

Tzipi Livni, leader of Hatnua, harshly attacked Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, in a behind-the-scenes incident that took place just before a televised interview pitted them against each other at week's end.

According to Walla! News, the two rode the elevator together before appearing on Nissim Mishal's show on Channel 2. Bennett initiated the conversation, telling Livni she had gone too far with a Facebook status in which she referred to a report that said Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, was going to vote for Bennett.

Livni allegedly told him: "I don't regret it; I don't even want to talk to you."

She also reportedly said: "You are an extremist, you are dangerous for the country and you do not know what democracy is."

Such harsh rhetoric in a behind-the-scenes exchange is rare in Israeli politics and may indicate that Livni's politics are leftist ideologically and emotionally motivated, and that it will not be easy to get her to sit in a coalition with Bennett.

Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich has already vowed to her voters that she will not sit in a coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu. Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, has said that he will not be "a fifth wheel" in a nationalist-hareidi government.

Attacks by MK's on one another in the last days before the Israeli elections seem to be focused a good deal on the meteoric Bayit Yehudi. In fact, Bayit Yehudi chairman, Naftali Bennett, remarked that the party must be going in the right direction if every other party is so afraid of it that they are investing efforts to find ways to attack it. Bennett recently said that every Friday night, when he cannot respond because he is a Sabbath observer, the party is attacked in the Israeli media.