Likud chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu
Likud chairman MK Binyamin NetanyahuIsrael News Photo: (file)

Senior aides in the Likud party said late Wednesday that chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has offered Kadima two senior Cabinet positions in exchange for its joining a nation unity government.  

The two parties comprise 55 Knesset seats, leaving the Likud the option of completing the government with religious and strongly nationalist parties or Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu).

Kadima reportedly was offered to choose among the defense, finance and foreign affairs ministries.

Last September Netanyahu rejected a bid by Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to form a national unity government after she took over the party's reins from outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Elections were called after she failed to gain enough support for a coalition.

Fifty MKs have declared support for MK Netanyahu, lending strength to the prevailing view that President Shimon Peres must give him the nod to form the next government, inasmuch as that task must fall to the party leader who has the most support.

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has the support of only the 28 MKs from Kadima thus far.

Livni, who still is Foreign Minister in the transitional government, claimed victory after Kadima received one more Knesset mandate than the Likud. However, that margin could still change after the votes of soldiers and diplomats are counted on Thursday.