Livni Urges Labor Party to Join Netanyahu's Coalition

Despite Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's pleas to get peace talks going, Labor chief Shelly Yacimovich says she'll join up only if right-wing Habayit Hayehudi quits.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni urged the Labor Party on Sunday to join the coalition after this month's primary so that the party can help the government move forward on peace talks.

“There is now an opportunity and there is a peace process, so it’s not enough to make speeches about the need for an agreement,” said Livni. “Labor must gather its courage and join the government to help it move forward.”

Speaking at a victory party for Nesher’s newly elected mayor, Avi Binamo, who was backed by both Labor and Livni’s Hatnuah party, Livni said that “if in the past there was no chance and no reason to join the government, now there is a chance that we could miss” because the right-wing party Habayit Hayehudi is in the government.

The question of whether Labor would join the coalition has been an issue in the run-up to the November 21 primary. Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich says she would consider joining the government only if Habayit Hayehudi quit the coalition to protest peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must decide,” said Yacimovich. “Is he following in the footsteps of [Menachem] Begin and [Yitzhak] Rabin, taking historic and responsible steps for peace and a Jewish and democratic state, or is he doing the bidding of the radical right, whether Habayit Hayehudi or the radical right in his party?”

MK Isaac Herzog, who aims to beat Yacimovich in the primary, called on her Sunday to agree to a debate on the party's future. "The Labor Party today has no relevance in the public debate,” said Herzog. “The Labor Party that wants to return to lead the country must be an alternative.”

Noting that Monday marks the 18th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, Herzog accused Yacimovich of failing to even discuss peace talks during the Labor campaign.

Yacimovich did not immediately respond to Herzog’s comments, but earlier attacked the government for announcing that thousands of housing units would be built over the Green Line. She said this plan, along with Habayit Hayehudi’s effort to pass a law meant to stop Israel from following through on its scheduled release of Palestinian prisoners, “indicates unreasonableness, a lack of good faith and the targeted killing of any progress in negotiations that could lead to an agreement with the Palestinians.”

Singling out Habayit Hayehudi chief Naftali Bennett, Yacimovich said his party had struck a “dubious deal” by agreeing to the prisoner release in exchange for settlement construction. Still “they went out to demonstrate against the government to which they belong, and against the decision to which they agreed,” Yacimovch said, speaking at a cultural event in Shoham. “The height of hypocrisy is reserved for Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at the J Street Conference this week. "I decided that a middle voice was needed."Credit: AFP
YacimovichCredit: Hadar Cohen

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