Zahava Gal-on, the head of the left-wing Meretz party, on Tuesday night blasted Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni for “crawling” into prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
“When Tzipi Livni entered the election race, moments before the deadline for filing lists, she decimated the hope that a center-left government would be formed. Today, despite all the slogans she spread in her campaign, she is the first to go crawling into the forming right-wing coalition,” Gal-on wrote on her Facebook page. “Livni’s entrance into the government is a slap in the face for her voters, who dreamt of a diplomatic shift and discovered that their votes were stolen and given to the right.
“Livni knows full well who Benjamin Netanyahu is. She knows he is motivated by narrow political interests, is afraid of change and fears being toppled. She knows that while he may let her advance the process, he won’t make peace,” charged Gal-on.
Livni signed an agreement with Likud-Beytenu on Tuesday afternoon, granting Hatnua the Justice and Environmental Protection portfolios as well as a Knesset committee chairmanship in exchange for joining the coalition. According to the agreement, Livni will also head the government’s negotiation team with the Palestinians, an area in which she will be subordinate only to the prime minister.
The decision to bring in Livni and the terms of the coalition agreement upset some of the Likud members, who claimed Netanyahu was over-generous in his offer.
Senior Likud officials told Yedioth Ahronoth that giving the Justice portfolio to Livni and letting her head the Ministerial Committee for Legislation would paralyze the 19th Knesset with regards to the principles represented by Likud, thwarting all “rightist” initiatives.
“By handing the Justice portfolio to Livni, Likud also handed the key to all legislation in the Knesset to a small coalition faction,” a top Likud minister said. “Maybe Netanyahu is hoping she won’t do anything in the ministry, as was the case when she headed it in the past, but it is enough that she blocks our initiatives for things to get complicated.”
Sources in the right-wing Jewish Home party said that Livni’s entrance into the coalition and her appointment as chief negotiator in talks with the Palestinians would make it harder for them to join the government.
“Putting negotiations in the hands of the person who managed the talks on Jerusalem, and who was responsible for the [2005 Gaza] disengagement plan, will make it hard for the Jewish Home to come to the table as part of coalition discussions,” one of the sources said.
Meanwhile, Shas party leader Aryeh Deri praised Livni’s decision and said she could “contribute a great deal with her experience” in overcoming the country’s various challenges.
“Today, the state of Israel needs a government that will unite the various national factions and won’t cause strife and discourse that delegitimizes other parts of Israeli society,” said Deri, whose party is rumored to be next in line to join Netanyahu’s emergent government.