Netanyahu May Be Eyeing Livni and Kadima as Coalition Partners

Officials believe Netanyahu seeks to include largest opposition party in coalition ahead of a possible resumption of settlement freeze.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni are expected to meet in coming days, with officials speculating Thursday that the premier was weighing the possibility of welcoming Kadima into Netanyahu's coalition ahead of a possible resumption of a settlement freeze.

Tzipi Livni

The premier reportedly called Livni on Tuesday, urging her to meet with him in the coming days. No date has yet been set for the planned meeting.

Officials believe that Netanyahu was considering the option of joining forces with Kadima as a possible scenario ahead of a potential renewed moratorium on Israeli construction in West Bank settlements.

Palestinian negotiators have recently put the brakes on freshly renewed direct peace negotiations with Israel over the resumption of settlement construction at the end of September.

Meanwhile, senior Kadima officials have claimed that the premier had been incessantly attempting to break up the largest opposition party, vying for the possibility that breakaway Kadima MKs would join the coalition in the eventuality of a withdrawal by the Labor party.

Kadima officials and Netanyahu aides attempted to downplay the importance of the planned meeting, the second such meeting in recent weeks, indicating the fact that a date for the gathering had not even been set.

The Prime Minister's Office responded to the reported contacts between Netanyahu and Livni, saying that the PM was "currently not engaged in any talks to expand the coalition."

In an interview with Channel 2 earlier this month, Livni urged Netanyahu to accede to U.S. President Barack Obama's request that Israel declare a new moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank.

Livni said that she was breaking her silence on the issue because of Netanyahu's failure to advance the direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians that began at the start of September.

Netanyahu has thus far resisted international pressure to extend the construction moratorium.

Livni said that Netanyahu has chosen conflict with the U.S. because of his fear of clashing with rightist ministers in his government.

Earleir that week, Livni criticized the Netanyahu government for wasting two years before conducting negotiations with the Palestinians.

In a speech at the Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Livni said that Kadima would support Netanyahu in decisions that enable peace talks with the Palestinians to continue.