Netanyahu: ‘Let’s Join Hands in Wide Unity Government’


netanayahuAs we reported, after the failure of his last-ditch effort to muster Kadima leader Tzipi Livni’s support for a unity government today, President Shimon Peres formally entrusted Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu with the task of building a coalition.  Netanyahu arrived as Beit Hanassi this afternoon and received the president’s official letter of appointment.  Earlier, after emerging from a meeting with Peres, Livni announced that she had no intention of joining a broad coalition under Netanyahu, despite the Likud chairman’s assertion that he was willing to “go to great lengths” in order to induce Kadima to join his government.

“For decades we have not withstood so many challenges at the same time. To face up to these challenges we need to join hands and unite all the forces within the people. I call on all parties, those who recommended me and those who didn’t. I turn to [Kadima leader Tzipi] Livni and to [Labor leader Ehud] Barak – let us join hands and pledge for the future of Israel. I hope to meet with you first and discuss a wide unity government.”

“It appears that the coalition which has been formed in recent days lacks diplomatic vision,” Livni said after the meeting. The Kadima leader rejected the president’s plea that she reconsider joining a coalition comprised of the three largest parties – Kadima, Likud and Israeli Beiteinu – and asserted that a “broad coalition is worthless if it is not governed by values.”

Netanyahu, who met with Peres shortly before Livni, said that Kadima would be the first party he turns to after receiving the nod from Peres. “I am willing to go to great lengths in the negotiations needed to establish such a government,” the Likud leader said after his meeting with Peres, echoing assessments that he would be willing to give Kadima several senior portfolios in his cabinet.

Netanyahu said repeatedly during the campaign that not forming a national-unity government when he was prime minister from 1996-99 was his worst-ever political mistake. But Livni left him no choice but to repeat it when she vowed to remain in the opposition.

“Today, the foundations of a right-wing extremist government under Netanyahu were set,” Livni wrote in a cellular phone text message sent to some 80,000 Kadima members Thursday. “The path of such a government is not our own and we have nothing to look for there. You didn’t vote for us in order to provide a kosher certificate for a right-wing government, and we need to provide an alternative of hope from the opposition.”

Livni’s associates said she knew she could have received an unlimited number of portfolios from Netanyahu, but she was not willing to sacrifice her ideology, which she believes is far removed from that of the Likud.

 {Yair Israel/JPost}