Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni was videotaped at the start of the weekly cabinet session Sunday speaking in relatively subdued tones and passing a note to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The note and the quiet conversation which preceded it – the contents of which were recorded and broadcast by Channel 2 news’s internet service – appear to show convincingly that Livni is serious about refusing to sit in a government coalition headed by Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu, and paving the way for the formation of a coalition based only on Likud and parties to its political right.

“I have no intention of being in a unity [government] headed by Bibi, and do not hint in that direction,” Livni scribbled hurriedly. “What you are saying leads there and this is not Kadima’s position,” she wrote, underlining the word ‘not.’

Livni and Olmert joke, she asks what he's going to say.

Channel 2 Internet

He tells her, and then they appear to suddenly notice the microphones.

Channel 2 Internet

Livni is seemingly shocked by the microphones, Ehud tells her to pass a note.

Channel 2 Internet

In the preceding conversation, Livni asked Olmert if he intends to say anything in his opening address about a possible rotation agreement with Likud. Olmert answered that he intends to say that he would like to see a wide government formed. She then frowned and told him “Ehud, do me a favor…” and he asked her “why not?”

The two then appeared to suddenly notice the microphones surrounding them and Olmert told Livni to write in a note what she wants to tell him.

The note which Livni then passed was visible on the TV screen but its content is not clear from the video and seems to have reached Channel 2 in a different way. Channel 2’s Internet news website states that the contents of the note “reached” it but does not say how.

The Likud reacted with vitriol to the televised report, saying: “Livni’s note is evidence of her complete blindness, because a clear majority of the public voted no-confidence in the path charted by Livni and her party. An absolute majority of the public, on the other hand, gave its confidence to Binyamin Netanyahu and his path. Livni is trying to twist the voter’s will and deceive the people.”

Some observers noted that the conversation and pencilled note could have been genuine and spontaneous – or they may have been staged, giving the term ‘Acting Prime Minister’ new meaning.