Yacimovich Nixes Israel Coalition Rumors, Reiterates Plan to Lead Opposition

Amid recent talk of Labor backing off its promise to oppose any Netanyahu-led coalition, Labor Party chairwoman redraws line, slams Lapid-Bennett pact; Livni slams E-1 plans.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich reiterated over the weekend that she would not join Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, despite reports indicating she was involved in coalition talks. “We will lead the opposition and won’t join the government,” she said. “Our path doesn’t cross the path of the one assembling the government: Netanyahu. They are opposite paths.”

In recent weeks there were some within Likud who believed that, for appropriate recompense, Labor could be convinced to join the government, and also be an alternative to the bloc that has been formed by Habayit Hayehudi’s Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid. Yacimovich, however, has categorically rebuffed these efforts.

In an email she sent to Labor party supporters, Yacimovich stated that Netanyahu’s call to renew the peace process was nothing more than a maneuver aimed at appeasing U.S. President Barack Obama during his upcoming visit.

“Netanyahu is saying: Let’s develop a peace process in honor of Obama’s visit while maintaining the stagnation and isolation? We say: Let’s be the initiators and drivers of diplomatic processes that are aimed at peace.”

Yacimovich also cited the deep cuts expected in the state budget and excessive benefits granted to tycoons as other reasons to stay out.

She also attacked both Lapid and Bennett, accusing them of being so enamored of their formula for obtaining a more equitable sharing of the military burden that all the other problems facing the country are being ignored.

“We’ve come to a ridiculous situation, courtesy of the Lapid-Bennett brothers, in which all the problems of the State of Israel the huge gaps between rich and poor, the collapse of the middle class, peace and security will seemingly be resolved if only more ultra-Orthodox are drafted into the army,” she wrote.

“With an economic and social worldview very similar to that of Netanyahu,” she added, “political life is much more comfortable [for Lapid and Bennett] when under the rubric of ‘sharing the burden’ one can totally ignore the most obvious and difficult generators of the unequal burden.”

Justice Minister-designate Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, slammed on Saturday night Netanyahu’s initiative to advance construction plans in the E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, and in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“We have to make every effort to launch negotiations, and we don’t need to make provocative acts that upset the other side and make the whole world angry at us,” Livni said on the Channel 2 television program “Meet the Press.”

Livni refused to say whether Netanyahu had agreed to freeze construction in the settlements as a confidence-building measure prior to the start of talks with the Palestinians under her stewardship. “My approach to negotiations is that I defend my positions and Israel’s interests in the negotiation room,” she said.

Livni also refused to say who the second minister from her party will be, even though the issue has caused a great deal of tension between MKs Amram Mitzna and Amir Peretz. She did not deny that she had made an explicit promise to Peretz on this issue, but said that the decision would only be made once it became clear that Netanyahu had succeeded in forming a government.

Coalition talks continued Friday between the negotiating teams of Habayit Hayehudi and Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu. Members of both teams said after the meeting that it had been “businesslike.”

The Habayit Hayehudi team submitted a number of comments on Prof. Eugene Kandel’s initiative to increase ultra-Orthodox enlistment. Kandel’s plan aims to draft 60 percent of Haredi men, aged between 18-24, within five years. According to those present, the gaps between the parties remain wide.

Habayit Hayehudi’s negotiators also raised the issue of Livni being named to lead the negotiations with the Palestinians, and went over the clauses in the coalition agreement signed with her on this issue.

“Habayit Hayehudi shouldn’t have any problem with Livni’s appointment,” said Likud sources. “The coalition agreement specifically states that a representative of Netanyahu will be present at every meeting Livni conducts on the matter. “

Labor head Shelly Yacimovitch meets with President Shimon Peres ahead of formal commencement of coalition negotiations. January 31, 2013Credit: Reuters

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