Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni recently turned down an offer to serve as foreign minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, according to a report aired Friday night on Israel’s Channel 10. The report was denied by Netanyahu’s office, but the TV station said it stood by its story.
The prime minister did not personally negotiate with Livni — who was Netanyahu’s justice minister in 2013-14, and served as foreign minister in Ehud Olmert’s government from 2006-09. Rather, the TV report said, the offer was made by an associate of Netanyahu who relayed it to an associate of Livni during contacts in recent weeks.
The two negotiators reportedly discussed the idea of Livni joining the coalition along with the four other MKs from her Hatnua faction, which is currently part of the opposition Zionist Union party, dominated by Labor, and headed by Labor’s Isaac Herzog.
The negotiations broke down when Netanyahu refused various demands from Livni that would demonstrate his commitment to advancing peace efforts, the TV report said. These included a readiness to freeze settlement construction.
Unnamed associates of Livni were quoted by Channel 10 as saying that “so long as there is no progress on diplomatic issues, there is nothing to discuss.”
The Foreign Ministry has not had a dedicated minister at its head since the current Netanyahu government was established in mid-2015. Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely serves as deputy foreign minister and Netanyahu is officially in charge of the ministry.
Livni is ready to leave the Zionist Union alliance if Herzog’s is defeated by rival Amir Peretz in a leadership battle next month, the TV report also said.