Text size

With Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's nailbiting victory over Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said that if Livni wants his party to join her government, she must comply with Shas demands.

In order to assume the chairmanship of the party, Livni needed to surpass a threshold of 40 percent of the votes in the primary. Her next task would be to put together a new government, for which she requires the cooperation of other parties. Should Livni, or any other party leader fail to establish a coalition of a majority of 61 MKs, general elections will be held.

"If Livni wants a government, she needs to comply with our demands," Yishai said. "If money for children in need is extortion, then we are extortionists," he continued, responding to remarks made earlier by Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz, who said that if Livni succumbs to extortion, Labor may not join the coalition.

"The likelihood that a government will be established is very similar to the likelihood of general elections. If Livni succumbs to every demand and to extortion, she may end up without us [Labor]."

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovitch said that "Labor has to go to general elections and accept the verdict of the voters. The public is signaling to us that it doesn't want us as an extraneous surplus in the coalition."

The Likud MKs also issued responses, with MK Gilad Arden saying that "Livni has no vision, and has no bankable record. She contributed to the failure of the [2006 Second Lebanon] War."

In an interview with channel 1 news, Arden added: "People will ask what changes has she led, and what has she done. We haven't heard her say anything about social-economic issues. We believe that the public will vote not on who can answer the phone at 3 A.M. but on who they think can lead the state of Israel."

Earlier Wednesday, Likud faction Chairman Gideon Sa'ar declared that the Likud will not join the government led by the new Kadima chair.

"Today a replacement prime minister is chosen, but a prime minister must be selected by the entire public," he said.

"At the end of all the deals there is a ballot, and at the ballot in the next election Kadima will be beaten and defeated," he added.

"Likud will not join a Kadima government, a government that failed," he concluded.

Following the primary, Likud MK Silvan Shalom said that the future winner of the Kadima primary "has no mandate from the people and no legitimacy. Kadima is split, and we are united and we will win the next general election."

MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) called on Livni to put together a coalition that will allow her to utilize her position to complete the peace negotiations currently underway with the Palestinians, and to achieve peace with Syria and Lebanon as well.

"I am really happy that Livni won because she is committed to the peace process," Beilin said. "I think the right thing for her to do now is to form a coalition that wants to promote peace rather than a broad government with the right."