Speaking to Israeli Channel 2 News on Friday January 4, Tzipi Livni of "Hatnua" called for Labor's Shelly Yachimovich and Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid to form a “united front” toward victory over the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu joint list. The subsequent meeting did not provide Livni with the support she sought for her leadership.
Tzipi Livni did not succeed in mobilising the center-left parties behind her leadership (Photo: Tzipi Livni Facebook page)
“The public wants my friends Yair Lapid and Shelly Yachimovich to act together as a group and create hope and an effective political power to replace Netanyahu,” Livni said. While Livni was still in the Channel 2 studio, Yachimovich sent her a text message: “Hi Tzipi, I would be happy to meet with you. I invite you to my house tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.”
In a meeting with potential voters in Ness Tziona over the weekend, Livni said "We must do something. People will go out and vote if we all do the right thing and join forces. We must face the voting public and tell them, we're united."
She further added, "We can at the very least agree that we will not recommend Netanyahu to form the next government after the elections.
Lapid, on the other hand, expressed a willingness to meet with Yachimovich and Livni, but would not commit to staying out of a Netanyahu-led coalition. He presented Netanyahu’s reelection as a fact, and suggested that the three parties join a coalition led by Likud-Beitenu in order to form a centrist government. According to Lapid, building a parliamentary majority that will prevent Netanyahu from forming a government after the election means to rely on Balad MK Haneen Zoabi.
However, Lapid committed himself during an interview with Meet the Press on Channel 2, to stay out of government if none of the other centrist parties join the government. “I won’t be the character reference for a coalition made up of haredim and the extreme Right," he said.
Without Livni's Hatnua and Yachimovich Labor, Netanyahu's only possible coalition partners would be the national-religious party Bayit Yehudi and the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties,
Yet the ultra-orthodox parties, Netanyahu's natural coalition partners, are vexed by what they call Likud-Beitenu's dismissive attitude and are threatening to shift support to the center-left bloc. Both ultra-Orthodox newspapers, Hamodia and Yated Ne'eman, which represent the spectrum of United Torah Judaism, ran a nearly identical editorial on this issue over the weekend.
Likud-Beitenu criticized Livni and Yachimovich, saying it is ridiculous for them to think they can run a country if they can’t even arrange a meeting between themselves. “They ought to learn that countries aren’t run in text messages and power plays,” the party quipped.
Yachimovich pointed out on Saturday evening that Livni also has yet to announce that she will not join a coalition with Likud-Beitenu, calling for her to do so to prove that her idea of an “obstructing bloc” has meaning.
According to Livni, the center-left bloc "either fights the far-right government or forces Netanyahu to form a different coalition." She added in a meeting in Ness Tziona over the weekend that "we must pledge ourselves not to serve as a fig leaf for an extremist government."
The party leaders met on Sunday evening, although Livni said this morning that no agreement amongst the parties was reached over forming an opposition bloc against an "extreme" Netanyahu-led government. In a joint statement the parties said the meeting took place in a "good atmosphere" and that they would meet again should the need arise.
Speaking today to Army Radio, Livni said "We did not do what we need to do - release a joint statement saying we will work together and ensure there will either be a national-unity government on the basis of what we believe in or an extremist government that we and the public do not want."