Sunday, December 27, 2009

Netanyahu offered Livni to join Gov't with 2 posts, but only he will set Policy

Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni met for an hour and a half Sunday evening to discuss the prime minister's offer to the opposition leader to join his government with her Kadima party. The two did not make any significant progress during the meeting and the proposal made to Livni included only two government portfolios.

Netanyahu then left to the President's Residence in order to brief Shimon Peres on the results of the discussion.

According to Netanyahu's offer, Kadima will join the existing coalition and the coalition agreements signed with the Likud's partners will not be opened, forcing Kadima to commit to all the current agreements.

The prime minister's proposal stated that the government's basic guidelines would not change and that Netanyahu would continue leading the peace negotiations and making all the diplomatic decisions.

During the meeting, the opposition chairwoman expressed her reservations over the offer. "This can be an honest conversation and it can also be another reeking political maneuver," she told the prime minister.

"Your plan, first of all to try to split Kadima and then to turn to me, does not testify to your good intentions. These threats against me, if you haven't realized this by now, don't work."

Livni asked for a conversation on diplomatic issues and a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, but Netanyahu refused, insisting that the government is acting in accordance with the principles he expressed in his Bar-Ilan speech.

"I don't understand why you don't believe me," he said. "My offer is sincere and serious. You will take part in all crucial decisions in the peace negotiations. I have no plans to hold the talks on two parallel and uncoordinated channels, but with a limited forum headed by myself, and you will be part of it."

Netanyahu stressed that he expects Livni's answer in "no more than a few days." After the meeting, he told his associates that he believed the Kadima chairwoman was playing for time.

"If she wants to join, she can do it right away. If she's looking for reasons not to join, she'll find them," he said. "The offer is clear and simple and requires an answer: Either yes or no."

After leaving the meeting, Livni began holding talks with Kadima's Knesset members ahead of Monday's faction meeting, where she is expected to brief the members in detail on her discussion with Netanyahu.

The Kadima faction is expected to reject the prime minister's offer. A source close to Livni told Ynet that Netanyahu's refusal to change the government's basic guidelines and his demand that Kadima accept all the agreements he has signed with other people "says it all". According to the source, "Saying you're being serious doesn't mean you are."