Details of 'unity government' deal revealed

Senior Likud source claims Netanyahu made generous deal to leftist Zionist Union, now waiting for response; Herzog's office denies.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Netanyahu and Herzog
Netanyahu and Herzog
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A senior Likud official has revealed the details of alleged secret talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the opposition Zionist Union faction, in anticipation of the left-wing party joining the coalition government.

A report in the Haaretz paper Sunday cited the unnamed, "knowledgeable" source, detailing the clear conditions outlined for an expanded unity government.

According to the report, Netanyahu is prepared to hand Zionist Union leader Yitzhak Herzog the coveted position of foreign minister - one of several ministries which have been kept vacant since the current government was sworn in more than a year ago - along with a number of ministerial and other senior government positions to seven or eight Zionist Union MKs.

Herzog would also be appointed as Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinian Authority, a post held in the last government by his current co-leader, Tzipi Livni.

If true, such a deal - which has long been speculated upon - would infuriate right-wing coalition members, both from the Jewish Home party as well as from Netanyahu's own Likud.

But the agreement would also require the Zionist Union to accept two conditions which its own left-wing members could find hard to swallow: Firstly, that the current government's broadly nationalist guidelines would remain unchanged, and secondly that the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party would remain in the coalition as well.

That second condition would be irrelevant, however, if the Jewish Home opts to bolt the coalition in protest of the inclusion of the leftist party, as many Likud officials reportedly believe it will.

The source further claimed that Herzog had been seriously considering the offer when news of the corruption case against him broke, but denied that the allegations - which now appear to be winding down - scuppered any imminent unity deal.

Herzog's office, however, has denied the reports. Branding it as Likud "spin," his office reiterated Herzog's official position that his sole objective is to work to replace the Netanyahu government.