Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich agreed to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, but said she would not change her party’s stance against joining a Netanyahu-led coalition.
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 hopes that she might provide him with alternatives to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
Channel 2 News on Monday night said Netanyahu has told aides that “What interests Lapid is to be prime minister” rather than to build an effective government. Likud sources said later Monday that Yesh Atid was already betraying its voters by talking of staying out of the government when the party had pledged to join the coalition before and immediately after the elections.
Lapid reportedly told aides over the weekend that his party could opt to stay in opposition and battle Netanyahu’s anticipated budget cuts. If so, “in a year-and-a-half, I’ll replace him as prime minister,” Channel 2 quoted Lapid as saying.
If talks break down between Netanyahu and Lapid, the political newcomer would be poised to stand at the head of the opposition as the leader of its largest party. Political maneuvering on Netanyahu’s part, however, could also thwart that scenario and rob Lapid of the high-profile position if he is able to convince the other opposition parties to elect a different leader.
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.
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.