Kadima negotiators said the withdrawals would be made prior to the next U.S. presidential election in November 2008.

After the meeting between the two teams, which took place in Ramat Gan’s Maccabiah Olympic village, Likud MK Limor Livnat (Likud) concluded, “The chance that we’ll be joining the coalition is very, very unlikely.”

Likud MK's Reuven Rivlin, Limor LIvnat, and Gidon Sa'ar arrive at Maccabiah village for coalition negotiations. A7Photo: Josh Shamsi

Kadima negotiators also told their Likud counterparts that Kadima would oppose holding a national referendum on carrying out the withdrawal plan.

Regarding the issue of obtaining international recognition for Israel’s borders after the convergence plan, Kadima representatives stressed that the party would look to obtain international approval for implementing the plan, but not for determining Israel’s new borders.

On economic and social issues, Livnat said, “Kadima faces a difficult task forming a coalition mainly around economic and social causes.” She estimated that such coalition demands will cost over ten billion shekels ($2.16 billion).

Another Likud MK, Gidon Sa’ar, summed up the meeting: “There was a good, sincere atmosphere. We agreed on a number of issues, but on the central issue, of the [convergence] plan, the gaps between the sides got much wider. We received clarifications that international approval is not required for permanent borders, but only for implementing the plan itself.”

Sa’ar said he would report back to the party’s MKs, who would decide whether there was a basis for further discussions with Kadima.

Livnat added that the “timetable” for implementing the convergence plan was “extremely short.”

“Olmert’s intention is to make a quick move and use the coalition’s majority in the Knesset for the purpose of approving his plan,” she said.