Yossi Verter
February 13, 2009 - 1:00am

Kadima will head for the opposition benches if Benjamin Netanyahu forms the government, Tzipi Livni said Thursday, adding that her party has no intention of accepting a right-wing, ultra-Orthodox government.

However, a senior Kadima official said the party probably would join Netanyahu's government eventually, and would demand the foreign and defense portfolios for Livni and Shaul Mofaz, or the foreign and education portfolios for Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

In consultations over the last two days, Livni said it would not be possible to set up a real unity government after Netanyahu formed a 65-member coalition. This coalition probably would include the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, which objects to advancing the peace process, and the far-right National Union, one of whose new Knesset members is a former Kach member.

However, other senior Kadima figures believe the new government's guidelines are less important than its conduct. "Sharon's second government did not mention the disengagement in its guidelines," a senior Kadima figure said.

An associate of Netanyahu said Thursday that if Kadima agrees to join a broad coalition that he heads, he may exclude at least one right-wing party to avoid having a massive 93-person coalition. "Such a coalition would outrage the public and would be impossible to manage. Netanyahu would be forced to appoint about 30 ministers, which would make the Knesset almost redundant," the associate said.

"But if Kadima joins we could certainly do without the National Union (four Knesset seats) and perhaps another right-wing party," he said.

A Kadima source said Netanyahu might have a problem if Livni demands the education portfolio for Itzik, since he promised during the campaign that Likud would keep that portfolio.


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