While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu signed on two coalition partners, Kulanu and Yahadut Hatorah, it appears he is far away from signing on Shas, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beitenu. Information released to the media indicates talks have all but broken down.
Some of the problems faced by the prime minister are formidable. Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman appears unwilling to enter a coalition that now includes chareidim. His party represents six seats for the prime minister’s coalition. Shas, which has seven seats, remains deadlocked on a number of issues. While party leader Aryeh Deri has given up on controlling the Interior Ministry, he remains deadlocked with Bayit Yehudi with eight seats. Both Shas and Bayit Yehudi are unwilling to forgo demands to control the Ministry of Religious Services.
What is certain is that the deadline for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to present his coalition is Wednesday, six days away. He already received a 14-day extension and now has to deliver the goods.
Some members of the right-wing and religious community fear both Shas and Bayit Yehudi are making a mistake, for their continue unwillingness to compromise may force the prime minister’s hand, and he may turn to the Labor party (24 seats) to form a coalition with Yahadut Hatorah and Kulanu. That would result in a coalition of 70.
Time is running out as all the players are aware. At present, with Kulanu and Yahadut Hatorah, PM Netanyahu has 46 seats. He must have at least a majority of 61 in the 120-seat Knesset
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
Labor will refuse to join. What might happen is new elections.