Herzog, Livni Close to Deal on a Joint Centrist Slate

Hatnuah leader Livni would get second slot in new centrist bloc; Labor's Herzog is also in talks with security experts, including ex-Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

AFP

The Labor Party and Hatnuah are close to an agreement to form a centrist bloc that will run together in the upcoming general election, figures involved in the negotiations told Haaretz Saturday.

Tomer Appelbaum

Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog would head up the joint slate of candidates, with Hatnuah chairman, former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, in the number two place on the list. The discussions have new moved on to deciding which candidates will fill out the remaining top-10 "sure bet" slots on the joint list, and in what order, beginning with the most senior figures in Hatnuah, including Amir Peretz, Amram Mitzna and Meir Sheetrit.

The chairman of Kadima, MK Shaul Mofaz, is considered likely to join the list as well. Labor Party officials have signaled that the former army chief of staff and defense minister is to be the new centrist bloc's senior hawk.

Meretz is seen as likely to run on its own rather than joining the new bloc, thus allowing Labor to position itself in the center of the political map. Meretz, in this situation, would presumably win the votes of Israelis to the left of the spectrum who are unwilling to support the combined list.

Herzog and Livni traveled together last week to the annual Saban Forum in Washington, and spent long hours in an effort to clinch a deal between their respective parties. Their decision to form a joint list was based in part on recent internal party polls showing that it would increase their combined representation in the Knesset. A poll conducted by Rafi Smith's Smith Consulting and published in Globes last week indicated that a joint centrist bloc would win 24 Knesset seats, while Likud would have only 22 seats.

One of the main reasons the deal has not been completed yet is the fact that the Knesset has not yet been officially dissolved; the legislature will only begin voting on the measure today.

Security experts

Meanwhile, former Shin Bet security head, Yuval Diskin, is also drawing nearer to Labor, having confirmed his attendance of a Labor Party conference to be held at the end of next month.

Diskin is said to have spoken with conference participants about his worldview on matters of leadership and the role of the party's next generation in leading the country.

Some members of Labor's young guard see the former Shin Bet head's attendance as a sign that he is ready to renege on his previous declaration that he would not run in any election held within the coming year. Diskin declined to comment to
Haaretz on the matter.

Diskin is one of the high-profile authorities on security being recruited by centrist and leftist parties lacking candidates who held senior security positions. Herzog hinted as much when he told the Saban Forum in Washington about talks he was holding with former security officials about joining the party's list for the upcoming election. He added that potential candidates are not interested in being exposed at this stage.

Senior party officials mentioned in recent weeks reserve generals Yisrael Ziv and Amos Yadlin as other figures who were being wooed to join the electoral list. Last week, Labor officials mentioned Mofaz, a former chief-of-staff and defense minister, as someone who might join forces with Herzog and be guaranteed a realistic spot in a centrist bloc list.