Livni to Remain in Charge of PA Talks
As much as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants Bayit Yehudi to join his coalition at this point, he is not prepared to renege on his promise to Tzipi Livni that she been in charge of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. A promise is a promise, Likud negotiators said, and an agreement that has been signed cannot be reopened.
During coalition discussions with the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu, Bayit Yehudi negotiators protested the agreement with Livni. The party has been seeking a reopening of the agreement, stripping Livni of some or all of her negotiating responsibilities. But negotiators for Netanyahu said that they would not do this.
In addition, sources in the Likud said that Netanyahu met secretly with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. During that meeting, Netanyahu told Lapid that while he, too, was welcome in the coalition, he must not demand the Foreign Ministry, because that job was “off limits.” Political sources believe he is trying to “hold” the post for Avigdor Lieberman, whom he expects to return to government activity after his corruption trial, which begins at the end of April.
Speaking Monday, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett said that he and his team were “rolling up their sleeve to help Prime Minister Netanyahu. We want to help form a government that will that will serve Israeli faithfully for a long period. We will assist the Prime Minister in establishing a government that will hopefully include different segments of the Israeli nation,” Bennett said.