Zionist Union 'negotiating terms of unity gov't'

Talks underway to bring Zionist Union into coalition. But Naftali Bennett warns offering party may bolt if Justice Ministry given to Labor.

David Rosenberg ,

Binyamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni
Binyamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Israel’s largest opposition party is negotiating the terms for a possible unity government, a senior Zionist Union official said on Tuesday.

Speaking with Army Radio, Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) confirmed that her party was in talks with the Netanyahu government over a possible unity coalition.

“I was shown things [brought up] in the talks, [but] were not finalized,” Livni said.

A senior Likud official confirmed the negotiations to expand the governing coalition, telling party chiefs already in the government that they would have to make concessions if the Zionist Union does join.

“Every party will have to do its part and give up on some [ministerial] portfolios in order to enlarge the coalition. The portfolios held by the Jewish Home are certainly on the table.”

Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett threatened to bolt the coalition should Netanyahu demand the Justice Ministry portfolio, currently held by Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home).

“If they take the Justice portfolio from us, we won’t sit in the coalition,” Bennett said during a closed door meeting.

The current high-level negotiations to expand the coalition are not the first attempt to bring the Zionist Union into the government. Since elections were held in March 2015, Netanyahu has maintained contacts with Zionist Union officials, hoping to broaden his government beyond the narrow 61-59 majority.