In its first meeting since the elections, the Labor Party decided Monday that it would not join a coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu. A majority of the faction's 15 MKs voted to oppose joining, but several complained about the decision, saying that they preferred at least opening talks with Netanyahu on the matter.
Before the election, Labor head Shelly Yechimovich had pledged not to join a Netanyahu-led government, and she had sought to set up a “left-center” bloc with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid and Tzippy Livni of the Hatnua faction that would propose one of them as a potential replacement for Netanyahu. After the elections, though, that plan fell through, as Lapid made it clear that he was interested in joining the government, and preferred Netanyahu over Yechimovich as Prime Minister.
Speaking to reporters, Labor MK and faction chairman Hilik Bar said that “joining the government would be a great mistake. Labor is committed to be an alternative to a Netanyahu government, both in security and economic matters. Our job is to function as a responsible opposition.”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Yechimovich said that Labor had no place in a government run by Netanyahu, Lapid, and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, because “they are all radical capitalists. There is no great difference between these partners.”
Yechimovich said that Labor would do fine in the opposition. “The opposition has gotten a bad reputation in recent years because those who managed it did nothing constructive. It was a giant with no values that did not present itself as an alternative. We will show the public how an opposition is conducted,” she added.