Netanyahu wants joint Knesset list with Lieberman


Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu told Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman recently that he wants the two parties to run on a joint list for the next Knesset, political sources connected to the parties said Thursday.

The sources said Netanyahu would be willing to reserve slots on the Likud’s Knesset slate for Israel Beiteinu candidates, as he did for Rafael Eitan’s Tsomet Party and David Levy’s Gesher Party when he won the 1996 election. Such a move could win Netanyahu crucial support in the Russian immigrant sector.

Netanyahu and Lieberman have met on more than one occasion recently and seriously discussed the logistics of the idea, but no decisions have been made. Lieberman is a former director-general of the Likud but is concerned that if he ran together with the Likud, Russian immigrant voters would go elsewhere.

“We are interested in unifying the right-of-center parties ahead of the next election,” a political source connected to the Likud said.

In contrast, however, the sources said Netanyahu was not willing to reserve slots on the Likud list for rebels who would break off from Kadima. More than 10 Kadima MKs are seriously considering leaving the party before the final Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War comes out, to maximize their power and guarantee their political future.

Netanyahu met recently with at least two of the Kadima MKs and told them they were wanted in the Likud. But sources close to him said that lawmakers who bolted from Kadima would have to run in the Likud primary to get into the Knesset.

Thursday’s Jerusalem Post headline about a possible split in Kadima before the Winograd Report appears was discussed extensively on Russian-language radio stations. Kadima MK Marina Solodkin, who is a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, confirmed to one of the stations that such a break was one of many scenarios being considered but said that she had not decided on her future.

Sources close to Olmert in Kadima said Thursday that his political opponents were getting more and more “desperate and miserable” as he remained in power and continued to solidify his control over the party.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who has been sparring with Olmert for two weeks, vowed to remain in Kadima in an interview with Israel Radio. But he said that had Ariel Sharon remained the chairman of Kadima, he would not have removed Mofaz from the Defense Ministry, and that the public could judge the ramifications of Olmert’s decision to do so.

“I am in Kadima and I am acting to strengthen Kadima,” Mofaz said. “There is a lot to do in Kadima to restore the public’s trust in the party that has crashed since the Second Lebanon War due to [the war’s] harsh consequences.”

August 24, 2007 | Comments Off on Netanyahu wants joint Knesset list with Lieberman

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