Labor Rules Out Coalition With Likud-Beiteinu

YERUSHALAYIM -

Prospects for a broad-based governing coalition after Israeli elections diminished on Thursday after Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich declared she would not join forces with Likud-Beiteinu.

Yachimovich cited what she called a “radicalization” of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party as the reason for the decision.

“There are only two options; either the Labor Party will lead the government, or Labor will lead the opposition against the government,” Yachimovich said at a press conference.

“I felt respect over the years for this party. But this is no longer the Likud that we know. It’s [Likud candidate Moshe] Feiglin from one side and [Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor] They have undergone radicalization in every area,” Yachimovich stated.

An official party statement referred to “the recent escalation and radicalization in Likud-Beiteinu’s positions in all fields —economic and social, diplomatic and security, the rule of law and democracy…”

The move came after statements made by prominent Likud figures earlier in the week calling for annexation of Area C, the part of Yehudah and Shomron where the Jewish communities, expected to remain in Israel as part of any final agreement, are located.

Yacimovich also stressed that the Netanyahu-Steinitz economic austerity plans will entail “the cruelest budget cuts ever,” resulting in an intolerable situation, noted Netanyahu’s senior partner, Avigdor Lieberman, who faces indictment for fraud and breach of trust.

“We cannot reject a scenario in which the Labor Party will be very big and Netanyahu will become a peace-loving social democrat,” she said. “Of course, this is an imaginary scenario, but no party is making a sweeping, total commitment [not to join a Netanyahu-led government] other than Meretz, and I respect them for it.”

The decision was something of a reversal for Yacimovich, who said last month that it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of joining a Netanyahu government. However, she explained that more recent developments caused a change of policy.