Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich came out of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening reiterating her party’s stance against joining a Likud-led coalition.
“The conversation with the prime minister was interesting, but the gap between our socio-economic worldviews is huge, as are our differences on reigniting peace talks with the Palestinians,” said Yachimovich.
Even before the elections, Yachimovich vowed that she would not join a Likud-led coalition, and she continues to maintain that policy despite some opposition from within her own party.
In addition to Labor, the left-wing Meretz party and Arab parties Hadash, Balad, and Ra’am-Ta’al have all pledged to be a combative opposition to Netanyahu’s government.
Earlier in the day, during a speech he gave after the swearing-in ceremony for Knesset members, Netanyahu talked of the need to overcome political divides.
“The hope is, that at the moment of truth, we will know how to put aside our political differences and unite for the sake of the common goal, and ensure the security and future of our country,” Netanyahu said. “We have reached the moments of truth, let us have the wisdom to unite.”
According to Likud officials, Netanyahu, who is holding talks with party leaders in an effort to establish a coalition following January 22 elections, asked to meet with Yachimovich in the hope that she might provide him with alternatives to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
Meanwhile, Channel 2 said sources in Yesh Atid intimated that they had reached an understanding with the Likud and the religious parties that would enable the latter to join the coalition after the government passed controversial legislation on implementing a universal draft.
In other coalition developments, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman slammed Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid for declaring his prime ministerial ambitions. The new politician “hasn’t even taken a seat,” Liberman scoffed, “and already he’s talking about being prime minister. By contrast, Netanyahu warmly embraced Lapid after the Knesset swearing-in ceremony.
The prime minister has 28 days to put together a coalition. If he is unable to do so in that time, the president can either give him a two-week extension or offer the opportunity to another party head to attempt to build a new government.