World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel's main centre-left parties may join forces against conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Jan. 22 election that he is currently forecast to win easily, one of the challengers said on Saturday.
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Hatenuah party, said on Twitter that she would meet counterparts from the kindred Yesh Atid and left-leaning Labour "to discuss the creation of a 'united front' to work together to replace Netanyahu".
Opinion polls see the three parties taking around 37 of parliament's 120 seats in the vote - collectively, enough to best the some 35 projected for Netanyahu's joint rightist list and, potentially, to form the next Israeli coalition government.
Netanyahu is a two-term premier who takes credit for the relative stability of the Israeli economy and appeals to the Jewish state's burgeoning religious-nationalist sectors by championing the settlement of occupied land. He has sounded hawkish on the Palestinians and Iran but avoided big conflicts.
Israel's festering international isolation has been seized on by Livni, who as top diplomat in the former government pursued inconclusive talks on founding a Palestinian state.
The leaders of Yesh Atid and Labour, Yair Lapid and Shelly Yachimovich, are new to politics and known to much of the public from their former jobs as television commentators. Their campaigns have focused largely on social reform.
Any alliance of the Netanyahu challengers would likely require that they agree power-shares and policies in advance.
Yachimovich said this week she intended either to be the next prime minister or to sit in opposition, and that Labour would not join a Netanyahu-led government. Livni and Lapid have yet to do the same.
"A unified move by ... all those who seek to change the government will be real and meaningful only if such parties act as we did," Yachimovich said in a statement confirming that she had agreed to meet Livni.
By collectively ruling out a future coalition partnership with Netanyahu, Yachimovich said, challengers could "plant enormous hope in the heart of the public ... and bring about grassroots mobilisation for a determined and spirited struggle".
Lapid played down his scheduled meeting with Livni, telling Reuters that he would go at her invitation "because I'm a polite man". He said he had not agreed to discuss uniting the parties.
The Netanyahu government was unfazed by Livni's initiative.
"I wish that the other side, to the left, would coalesce, because that would hone the differences between us," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon of the ruling Likud said in a speech.
In an apparent dig at Lapid and Yachimovich, Yaalon rued "the immodesty and immaturity in the desire of certain people to jump straight into the cold water of being prime minister, without passing through any stations along the way".
Pro-regime forces have surrounded Aleppo's eastern districts since July 17, sparking fears for an estimated 250,000 people who live there.
Syrian Al-Nusra Front vows to now continue fighting as 'Conquest of Damascus Front'
EU calls for urgent pause in fighting in eastern Syrian city Aleppo to deliver medical aid
US-based preacher Fetullah Gulen’s FETO terrorist group is believed to have orchestrated Turkey's failed July 15 coup bid
Russia's defence ministry has announced a large scale humanitarian aid op with corridors created for resident to be able to leave the city
Resistance forces in Mosul have said that ISIL using Israel technology as well as Sony branded cameras to build and equip its missiles
Plan includes 130 new housing units in two Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem
ISIL terror group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack
Cairo-based league’s summit in Nouakchott failed to address issues of contention between Arab states, Egyptian political analyst asserts
Egypt’s president meets high-ranking Pakistani military commander with view to stepping up bilateral security cooperation
1917 declaration by Britain paved way for creation of Israel in 1948
Turkish Foreign Ministry condemns approval of 770 new settlements in East Jerusalem
Khebisa works as a freelance journalist based in the West Bank
Senior officers stationed in Afghanistan detained at Dubai International Airport, brought to Turkey
The US has named three al-Qaeda operatives present in Iran, which Iran has denied