Tzipi Livni on Wednesday declined to answer questions from reporters at her party’s first meeting since it joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, and instead defended her decision against public criticism.
The former opposition leader said the most important priority was influencing government policy, “and there’s no doubt that we got it.” According to the deal Livni struck with Netanyahu on Tuesday, she will be appointed justice minister in the new government and head a negotiating team for talks with the Palestinians.
“The Justice Ministry will allow Hatnua to advance our worldview and protect the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and prevent the radicalization we saw in the last Knesset,” she said at the party meeting.
“It’s not a matter of a portfolio, but rather the ability to influence the next government’s policies,” she added.
While Livni was all smiles because of her new appointment, Hatnua’s No. 2 Amram Mitzna was reportedly unamused that he was passed over for the party’s second ministerial appointment, which went to the No. 3, Amir Peretz.
Mitzna refused to speak with the press, but reportedly said in private that he was waiting for a final decision as to who would get that post, but did not intend to resign.
Peretz, who was said to have been given the environmental protection portfolio, apparently tried to shake Mitzna’s hand at the party meeting but Mitzna snubbed him. Hatnua’s No. 4, Elazar Stern, told Channel 2 that he was “embarrassed” by the situation.
“It embarrassed me a lot,” he said. “I didn’t hear that they had promised Mitzna he’d be a minister, and I can’t deny the fact that the person who picks who will be a minister is the party chief alone.”
Ynet later reported that Livni met with Mitzna and told him that she had not yet determined which party member would be environmental protection minister.
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Livni’s former rival, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, Wednesday evening to discuss bringing Kadima into the coalition. The Kadima party recently stated that it would only join the government if the universal draft issue were resolved.