Netanyahu Asks Rival Livni to Join Government
Move could boost peace talks with Palestinians
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2009 5:26 AM CST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem ,Sunday, Dec. 20 2009. The Israeli military will use massive force if necessary to demolish structures built illegally...   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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(Newser) – The Israeli prime minister has asked moderate opposition leader Tzipi Livni to join his government—a move that could boost efforts to restart negotiations with the Palestinians if she accepts, or rip apart her rival party if she refuses. The offer, made late yesterday after a cabinet meeting, came amid reports that Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to persuade lawmakers from Livni's Kadima party to bolt to his Likud. On Friday, one lawmaker announced she would join Likud if Livni rejected the offer.

Livni did not turn down the offer. "I'm not closing the door," she said. If the offer is serious, Livni said, she wants to explore how far Netanyahu is willing to go in negotiations with the Palestinians. Livni, a former foreign minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, refused to join Netanyahu's hardline government in March because he would not embrace the notion of a Palestinian statehood at the time. Netanyahu has since endorsed the idea, albeit with stipulations the Palestinians have rejected, such as continued Israeli control over east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.