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Israel headed for 'extreme right-wing' regime, Kadima's Livni says

Tzipi Livni, whose centrist Kadima party holds the most seats in a divided Israeli parliament, has told her followers they are headed for opposition status as hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu solidifies his claim to govern.

As hardline forces coalesce, centrist seems to rule out unity government

Tzipi Livni, whose centrist Kadima party holds the most seats in a divided Israeli parliament, has told her followers they are headed for opposition status as hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu solidifies his claim to govern, Israeli newspapers reported Thursday.

The Kadima party won more seats in Israel's parliament than any other, but leader Tzipi Livni says it is destined to sit in opposition to a far-right government. ((Canadian Press))
She told party members Thursday that "we weren't elected to legitimize this extreme right-wing government, and we must represent an alternative of hope and go to the opposition," the daily Haaretz reported on its website.

Livni's chances of leading the country faded Thursday when Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, endorsed Netanyahu, who was prime minister from 1996 to 1999.

Kadima  won 28 seats in the Feb. 10 election compared to 27 for Netanyahu's Likud party, but neither could command the 120-seat Knesset. Likud is now in a better position to put together a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu and other hardline parties, although it could be weeks before a government is formed, the newspaper said.

Benjamin Netanyahu seems headed for the prime minister's office again as he gathers support from other hardline Israeli politicians. ((Canadian Press))
Livni, seeming to rule out the idea of joining a national unity government, said, "Today the foundation was laid for an extreme right-wing government led by Netanyahu. This is not our way, and there is nothing for us in such a government," Haaretz reported. 

Ehud Barack, the current defence minister, said his centre-left Labour party was headed into opposition too, the Jerusalem Post reported.

But Netanyhau said he would still appeal to Livni and Barack to join a unity government, the newspaper said.