Politicians across the spectrum on Saturday praised and criticized efforts by Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni to join forces against current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with potential ally Yair Lapid saying he’d rather be the moderate voice in Netanyahu’s coalition than ostracize the Likud party.
Though the Yesh Atid party leader agreed to meet with Yachimovich and Livni, he opposed the formation of a bloc that vowed not to join a Netanyahu government.
“What will come of it? A government of ring-wing and ultra-Orthodox [parties]?” he asked. “Instead of avoiding the likely possibility that Netanyahu will form the next government, let’s join it together and instead of a right-wing and ultra-Orthodox party there will be a moderate and sane government that will act on behalf of the Israeli middle class.”
Former Labor Party minister Ophir Pines-Paz praised Yachimovich’s move to unite the center-left parties.
“I welcome the announcement by Yachimovich, which determined that there are only two options – the premiership or leading the opposition,” the former interior minister said. He also complimented Yachimovich’s declaration that she would not join a Netanyahu government.
Kadima party head Shaul Mofaz, meanwhile, praised the move orchestrated by Yachimovich and his former rival Livni. “It would have been preferable had this unification occurred before the lists were submitted, but it’s not too late,” Mofaz said.
“If the decrease in votes for Likud-Beytenu continues, it will be possible to replace this government. It’s not over,” he added.
The Likud party, however, saw Lapid’s apparent acquiescence as a move that “tears the masks off the face of the ‘center’ parties and proves that they are clearly left-wing parties.” It added that it was risible that the center-left parties couldn’t organize a meeting, and that it was proof that they weren’t qualified to run the country.
Likud MK Ofir Akunis said the Left was attempting to “block the establishment of a national government headed by Netanyahu” in a move he termed “a clear warning sign for right-wing voters not to repeat past mistakes.”
He urged right-leaning voters to vote Likud, calling it “the only way to ensure a strong national government” that would be able to serve as a “counter-force against the Left.”
Another Likud MK, Moshe Ya’alon, who serves as both Strategic Affairs Minister and vice premier, said he wished the Left would “become consolidated,” because then “the differences between us would become clear.”