Kadima Rejects Bibi's Offer To Join Government

By Jonathan Lis and Mazal Mualem (Haaretz)

Published December 28, 2009.

The Kadima Knesset faction announced on Monday that it was rejecting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer for the party to join the government.

Kadima relayed that the decision was made by a majority of the lawmakers during the a weekly meeting in the Knesset, and that Chairwoman Tzipi Livi was in full agreement on the matter with Shaul Mofaz, her number two and a longtime rival.

During the meeting, Mofaz said: “Netanyahu’s offer, as it appears today, is arrogant and unrealistic. This arrogance is not a good quality for a leader; I tell Netanyahu today what I told Livni a few days ago: Arrogance is not a substitute for leadership.”

On Monday, Netanyahu said he would offer Kadima three cabinet posts should it agree to join the coalition, a day after proposing Livni bring in the party in exchange for two minister without portfolio spots.

After meeting for 90 minutes on Sunday evening, Netanyahu and Livni were no closer to agreeing on whether Kadima would join the government, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the discussion.

Netanyahu said following the meeting that Livni was playing for time. Livni said she would consult her faction, but after phoning Kadima MKs on Sunday, she said she felt the meeting had been a political exercise.

Netanyahu made Livni a sweetheart offer: two ministers without portfolio, for her and MK Shaul Mofaz, membership in the inner cabinet and for her, membership in the senior forum of ministers.

Coalition agreements, to which Kadima would be obligated, would not change.

Sources in Kadima said the faction was likely to reject the offer, which could spur a split in the party.

Netanyahu and his aides continued yesterday to try to persuade seven Kadima lawmakers to leave the faction, the legal minimum needed to split off.

Netanyahu stressed that he wanted an answer by this evening. If Livni insisted, the prime minister would sweeten the deal by adding another minister.

Netanyahu told his aides after the meeting with Livni that if she’s a leader, she’ll have to decide.

“I feel like I did in March 2009 when she was looking for any excuse not to agree to a government under my leadership,” he said.

During the meeting, Netanyahu reportedly told Livni that he would lead diplomatic negotiations and make all decisions.

Livni reportedly told Netanyahu that his attempts to split her party did not bode well for his good intentions.

“Such threats do not work on me, if you don’t know it by now,” Livni reportedly told the prime minister.

When Livni asked to discuss diplomatic issues, Netanyahu refused and said his Bar-Ilan address was the outline of his diplomatic policy.



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