Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yechimovich once again rejected on Monday the ongoing rumors that she plans to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
“There is no basis to the spins,” Yechimovich told the members of her party during a faction meeting. “I find myself again, every week, in the same routine that I need to address statements, rumors and spins, so let me clarify: anyone who thinks we have gathered here to arrange jobs which include ministerial portfolios, senior positions though they may be, and other such honors in the Knesset and outside it, is a bit confused.”
She added, "We served as Netanyahu's contractors in the past and you all know to what low it brought us. We will not be Netanyahu’s contractors - not in the social field, not in the political field and not in the civil field. It is important to note that whenever the Prime Minister invites me to a meeting I'll go and listen, out of respect for the institution of the Prime Minister and because this is not a disqualfication for personal reasons. However, the gaps between our world view and that of Netanyahu are enormous. I will not go into detail, since our conversations are being held in private, and I respect that, and also because if I start to elaborate I will be suspected of negotiating and there is not a single shred of negotiations here.”
In recent days there have been rumors that Netanyahu was trying to lure Labor into his coalition by offering Yechimovich the position of Finance Minister, which would allow her to promote her social agenda.
Netanyahu and Yechimovich have met several times, the last time being on Friday, but Yechimovich has repeatedly insisted that she will not join a Netanyahu-led government because of his socio-economic policies.
Netanyahu is trying to pursue the Labor party since coalition talks with the Yesh Atid and the Bayit Yehudi parties have stalled.
Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid have reportedly made a deal to enter the coalition together or not at all, in an apparent attempt by both parties to guarantee a coalition ally with similar goals.
Sources in the Likud have questioned the motivation behind the deal, suggesting that Yesh Atid’s platform differs from Bayit Yehudi’s on key issues.
Lapid insists on implementing a program that would see yeshiva students being drafted into the army and has imposed almost impossible preconditions on entering the government, making it hard to include Bayit Yehudi as well. Lapid is reportedly steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett indicated a feeling of restlessness on Monday, telling a meeting of his party that "it has already been a week and no significant negotiations have taken place" with the Likud.
"We want to enter the Israeli government to faithfully serve the people of Israel," said Bennett, clarifying, "We are talking about the Netanyahu government and therefore we've said all the time that we have one candidate and that is Netanyahu."
"Once they decide to negotiate," said Bennett, "a government can be established within 24 hours."
As he becomes frustrated with Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid, Netanyahu is turning to Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni. A report on Sunday indicated that Netanyahu has offered Livni the position of Justice Minister.