Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog reiterated Sunday he would not join a governing coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, denying comments by Likud officials that he was considering dropping Zionist Union’s Hatnuah faction.
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“Zionist Union is united under my leadership as is the Labor Party,” Herzog wrote on Twitter Sunday, referring to an article by Haaretz that morning.
Center-left Zionist Union, which came in second in the March 17 election with 24 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, is made up of Herzog’s Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah. Likud won the election with 30 seats.
Over the weekend, Likud officials told Haaretz they still had not ruled out a unity government with Zionist Union, despite Herzog’s denials.
Likud officials said that as long as Netanyahu’s coalition talks with parties to the right of Zionist Union had not ended, Likud needed the Herzog option — “also in case talks with one of the parties run aground,” as one Likud official put it.
Likud sources said they believed that many MKs who had expressed opposition to a unity government would backtrack if offered an attractive deal.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want to include Tzipi Livni and members of Hatnuah, so it’s better if Herzog doesn’t bring in Hatnuah and heads a list including at least eight MKs, all of whom would be appointed ministers,” a Likud official said.
“A good option would be for Herzog to come with 12 MKs; then he’d be a proper substitute for Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi,” the official said, referring to the right-wing parties headed by Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett.