Meretz Seeks 'Blocking Majority' to Prevent Netanyahu Government

So far, Meretz is the only Zionist party that has categorically refused to join a Likud-led government.

Leaders of the new Meretz party are discussing the possibility of creating a "blocking majority" against a rightist government even before the election.

This would require getting both Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak to declare in advance that they would not join a government headed by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

So far, Meretz is the only Zionist party that has categorically refused to join a Likud-led government. Barak has publicly stated that he will only join a government that promises to continue the peace process, but has refused to say specifically that he would not join a Netanyahu government.

Netanyahu, for his part, has stated repeatedly in recent weeks that a Likud government would continue the peace process. However, he also says he would not begin talks with the Palestinian Authority from where they left off under the current government.

Meretz views it as vitally important to establish a joint front with Labor and Kadima before the election, fearing that otherwise Netanyahu might be able to get both parties to join a Likud government should he win.

Several recent polls show Likud and Kadima virtually tied at about 30 seats each, while support for both Labor and Meretz has been edging upward. If, combined, Labor and Meretz could get between 20 and 22 seats, and were joined by Kadima with 30 seats, that would be enough for a blocking majority, assuming that the Arab parties maintain their current 10 seats.

If the left did secure a blocking majority, President Shimon Peres would have to give Livni the first opportunity to form a government, even if Likud won more seats. And once Livni proves that she has the ability to establish a narrow government, the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, would probably join.

Ever since Livni was given charge of negotiations with the PA, she has met frequently with Meretz chairman Haim Oron. However, Shaul Mofaz's sizable camp within Kadima is likely to object to any initiative to form a blocking majority with Meretz and Barak is also cool to the idea.