Netanyahu is weaker than ever, says Yachimovich
Labor chair says that if her party wins 25 seats, Peres will ask her to form
the next government; Livni says she won’t sit in a government with a
By Yifa Yaakov The Times of Israel January 12, 2013, 6:41 pm
Less than two weeks ahead of the elections, Israeli politicians made
last-ditch efforts Saturday to persuade citizens to vote for them, trying to
convince the public that they needed more power in order to guard the people’s
interests and guide the country through a complex web of security, social
and financial concerns.
Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said that despite the left-center
bloc’s failure to unite against reigning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
there was still a chance that he could be replaced and that she could form
the next government.
“Netanyahu is weaker than ever before,” said Yachimovich, adding that the
Likud alone, without Yisrael Beytenu — with which it has partnered for the
January 22 elections — would have won 21 seats at most.
“If the Labor Party wins 25 seats, the president [Shimon Peres] will ask me
to assemble the government. I know the chances are not high, but they
certainly exist,” she said. Polls show Labor heading for 17-18 seats.
She also criticized Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni for “making a terrible
mistake” and refusing to partner her in the early stages of the election
campaign. She urged Livni to announce that she would not sit in Netanyahu’s
government and that she would recommend Yachimovich for prime minister.
Livni, for her part, said that she would “not sit in a government with a
Bennett policy,” referring to right-wing Jewish Home Party head Naftali
Bennett –- considered a “natural” coalition partner for Netanyahu.
“The stronger I am, the stronger my influence will be on a policy that will
work with the world instead of against it,” Livni said.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, meanwhile, said the issue the new government
would have to confront most urgently was the inequality at home.
“There is no country in the world that can survive when half of its citizens
don’t participate in the game — neither socially, nor financially, nor
security-wise,” said Lapid, once again stating that the ultra-Orthodox would
have to be drafted and integrated into the workforce.
Israel “cannot afford” another three to four years “in which the plundering
of public funds continues” to the detriment of the middle class, Lapid