After the upcoming elections, the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list will seek to create a broad national unity coalition, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday, amid statements from political rivals in the center-left bloc to the effect that they may be open to joining such a government.
Ya’alon, who is also strategic affairs minister, is a senior member of the ruling Likud party, which is predicted to cruise to an easy victory in January 22 voting.
“The way I see it, the next government will have as many as possible members,” he told a cultural gathering. “Considering all the challenges we are facing, the more stable the government is, the less sectoral groups will be able to use extortion.”
Currently, the joint Likud-Beytenu list is expected to win some 35-38 seats in the next Knesset, drafting other right-wing parties to get the necessary 61 seats for a coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not ruled out working with parties from the center-left bloc, though the Labor Party, expected to be the second largest faction, has committed to not joining a Netanyahu-led coalition.
Tzipi Livni, the head of the newly formed Hatnua party which is expected to garner anywhere from five to nine seats, over the weekend did not close the door on the option of joining Netanyahu’s government.
“We won’t sit in a government that uses the policies of [Naftali] Bennett,” she said, referring to the head of the nationalist Jewish Home party. “But the stronger I am, the stronger my influence will be on a policy that will work with the world instead of against it,” Livni said.
Livni, a former foreign minister who headed the opposition for three years before losing the Kadima leadership post to Shaul Mofaz, reportedly intimated in the past that she would be open to joining Netanyahu’s government if given responsibility for negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu immediately nixed that possibility.
Ya’alon said the next coalition would not boycott anyone, but questioned Livni’s fitness for making peace with the Palestinians.
“Livni experienced [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’s refusals. Her signs say she will bring hope and peace? That’s an illusion, and they invent new illusions for us every time,” Ya’alon said.
Should Netanyahu manage to form a national unity government, it would not be his first. In May, the prime minister managed to bring Kadima, then headed by Mofaz, into the government, a surprise move that created one of the largest coalitions in the nation’s history.
Kadima pulled out of the coalition, however, after less than three months, citing a falling out over the issue of drafting new legislation for universal military enlistment.
The party is not expected to be a major factor in the coming Knesset. In fact, many polls predict that it will not pass the two-seat electoral threshold required to return to parliament..