Tzipi Livni
Tzipi LivniIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried on Wednesday to limit the damage from news reports that he was planning to set up a coalition with Tzippy Livni as a chief partner. A report in Haaretz said that Netanyahu had made clear to several of his senior staff that no talks were taking place with Livni or other members of her “Hatenua” (“The Movement”) party, and that the chances of her joining the next government with him as Prime Minister were nil.

“Livni managed the negotiations with the Palestinians poorly,” Netanyahu told ministers, the report said. “Her entire stance is wrong and unacceptable to me.”

Earlier this week, reports on Israel Radio quoted unnamed officials in both Livni's party and the Likud as saying that the talks were exploring matters of policy, and political positions members of Livni's party might be able to receive. Among those positions, said the officials, was likely to be a high-level ministry position that would allow Livni to have an impact on the government's policy towards negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Both Netanyahu and Livni support setting up a PA state in parts of Judea and Samaria, with the two differing on the scope and size of the state.

The report also quoted Netanyahu as saying that the post of Foreign Minister, now vacant, is not “up for grabs,” and that the Prime Minister was not entertaining any new candidates at this point. Netanyahu is determined to keep the slot open for Avigdor Lieberman, on the odds that he will be cleared of charges in a corruption case he now faces.