Livni: Center-left Must Unite Against Formation of Extremist Government

With Labor chief Shelly Yacimovich announcing she would prefer to stay in the opposition than join coalition government headed by the PM, Tzipi Livni says she doesn't believe 'we should give up.'

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Tzipi Livni said on Thursday that the center-left bloc should fight together to stop an "extremist front" from forming a government after the January 22 elections.

The Hatnuah leader and former opposition leader was responding to the announcement by Labor chair Shelly Yacimovich on Thursday that she would not join a coalition government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud-Beiteinu, preferring to serve as the leader of the next Knesset opposition.

"I don't believe that we should give up, as some of my colleagues are doing, and announce that we are going to the opposition, that we are going into the government or that there is no bloc," Livni said.

"We need to fight together and create a united front against the extremist front, and try to prevent them from forming a government."

Current and potential Knesset members from Labor, on the other hand, welcomed Yacimovich's decision. "In light of the radicalization of Likud-Beiteinu, there are only two possible paths to take after the elections," they said. "Either forming a coalition led by Yacimovich, or, if the public chooses otherwise, leading the opposition."

The party released an official statement declaring: "The Labor Party is determined to change the regime, and will make every effort to lead a coalition that provides an alternative to the extreme right-wing government and show the Israeli public that there is another option."

Labor Party sources said following Yacimovich's announcement that such a move had been inevitable. "Yacimovich understood that there was no way she could join a Likud-Beiteinu government," they said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been entertaining the idea of bringing the Labor party into the coalition instead of Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi, they added, but the latter's rising popularity in pre-election polls has made it key to the right-wing's quest to gain the 61 seats necessary for forming a coalition. 

Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni gestures during a news conference in Tel Aviv November 27, 2012.Credit: Reuters