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Lapid, Livni in talks to run center-left ticket against Netanyahu: report

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, left, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni speak following a vote at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Two leaders of Israel’s center-left camp, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, are reportedly in talks toward forming a joint list to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling government in the April elections.

Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, and Livni, head of Hatnua (The Movement), have met on the subject of forming an alliance several times in the last week, party officials told Haaretz daily newspaper.

“Without relating to this or that meeting, it’s no secret that Livni is in favor of connections between parties and forming one large bloc to create a turnover [of the government],” officials in Hatnua told the daily. Yesh Atid officials were quoted as saying the meetings were “excellent, and many more will come.”

According to the report, Livni is considering joining Yesh Atid and standing aside to let Lapid occupy the number one spot on a unified list, which is reportedly a priority for him.

Following a dramatic and abrupt split with former Zionist Union partner Avi Gabbay of the Labor party that devastated polling numbers for both parties, Livni is reportedly eager to run jointly with other parliamentarians to strengthen the opposition’s chances to rival Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing Likud party.

AP photos

The Zionist Union faction had been the second-largest party in Israel's recently dissolved parliament, earning 24 seats in the last election. In recent polls, the Labor party by itself receives no more than eight following the Gabbay-Livni split.

In a Hadashot poll, Livni as stand-alone leader of the Hatnua party without running jointly to form a center-left bloc manages to earn five seats, narrowly passing the electoral threshold (approximately four seats).

Meanwhile, polls conducted in the run-up to the April 9 vote have consistently put Lapid’s Yesh Atid trailing well behind Netanyahu’s Likud. But, Lapid has said that if Netanyahu faces a pre-election indictment on several bribery charges, everything could change.

“Israel is a complicated country with complicated challenges and we cannot afford having a prime minister that is preoccupied mostly with his legal issues,” Lapid told i24NEWS in an English-language interview via Skype.


“I think that the minute there is an indictment the whole scenery is changed and we can win the election...The people of Israel, it is not within their values to have a prime minister that has been indicted for serious, very serious issues,” he said.

Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted in three separate corruption cases and the attorney general is expected to announce his decision on whether to indict the premier in the weeks or months ahead.

In another development in the tumultuous Israeli election season, former IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz and his Hosen L’Yisrael (Israel Resilience) party emerged as a popular dark horse challenger to Netanyahu, with polls suggesting that his helming a centrist alliance could mount a strong opposition to -- though not surmount -- Likud dominance.

Gantz, however has been notoriously tight-lipped about the platform his new party is running on, and his silence has become a point of criticism for political rivals.

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