Amid Talks of a Center-left Union, Lapid Calls Livni and Yacimovich to Join Netanyahu Government

Yesh Atid chairman says parties must join the Likud-Beiteinu government in order to prevent an extreme right-wing coalition; Labor and Hatnuah leaders may meet later on Saturday.

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Less than a day after Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni called on Israel's centrist parties to come together and form a united front against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich expressed her willingness to meet and discuss the matter.

"I was very happy to hear Livni's statement," Yacimovich said Saturday at an event in Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. Although Livni was unavailable to meet on Saturday night, Yacimovich said she will "do everything for this meeting to take place. As far as I'm concerned it can also take place late tonight."

Meanwhile, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also signaled his willingness to meet with Yacimovich and Livni, but said wasn't interested in joining a center-left bloc to counter Netanyahu, rather, Lapid suggested that they join a Netanyahu government in order to prevent the formation of an extreme right-wing government.

In recent weeks it seemed Lapid was considering joining forces with the other center-left parties, but on Saturday he wrote on his Facebook wall that he wasn't interested in joining the proposed bloc. "I told them I would be happy to meet," Lapid wrote, "just as I am happy to meet with political leaders from the right and from the left," adding that he didn't "usually boycott people or parties."

On Saturday, Yacimovich reiterated that she would not be part of a Netanyahu-Lieberman government. In her previous announcement Thursday, she said, "created very positive waves on the ground and awakened the elections. I hope it made the centrist parties realize that replacing Netanyahu is a possibility, especially in light of the Likud-Beiteinu's extreme weakness."

On Saturday, Livni said that "anyone who realizes the gravity of the moment should join and unite around the initiative I presented, in order to replace Netanyahu." Livni added that she still hopes Lapid would join, adding that "when people will see me, Shelly, Yair, Mofaz and anyone who realizes these are times of trouble all those people who have despaired and given up will go out and vote."

"It is not written in the stars that Netanyahu will be prime minister," Livni said. "These are time of trouble for Israel and we must unite against the Likud-Beiteinu's alliance of extremists, the ultra-Orthodox and Habayit Hayehudi – an alliance that prefers a Greater Israel over a Jewish state and the Halacha over the law."

Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz also welcomed the move. "I am in favor of a strong and large union to replace this right-wing government," he said on Saturday. "It would have been better if the union had taken place before the parties registered with the election committee, but it is still not too late."

Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yacimovich.Credit: Nir Kafri

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