Netanyahu makes play to split Israeli left-wing

Monday, March 02, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Media reports on Monday indicated that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu may be on the verge of successfully splitting the Israeli left-wing and weakening its top parties as he moves ahead with efforts to form a national unity government.

Having been given the cold shoulder by Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni regarding his offers to join a unity coalition, Netanyahu turned to Labor Party leader and current defense minister Ehud Barak at the weekend.

According to reports, Barak has changed his mind about sitting in the opposition, and is pressing the rest of his party to join Netanyayhu's government.

Barak reportedly feels it will best serve him and his party to remain defense minister, and to not play second-fiddle to Kadima in the opposition.

A number of Labor's more ideological Knesset members refuse to join a Netanyahu-led government, and there is some concern they could split from the party if Barak enters the coalition.

Meanwhile, senior Likud MK Silvan Shalom told Reuters on Sunday that several of the more right-leaning members of Kadima may break with their party to join the Likud government, significantly weakening Livni and the opposition.

About half of Kadima's members originally came from Likud.

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