The chairmen of the various Knesset factions are beginning to meet with President Reuven Rivlin, to tell the president who they recommend to receive the presidential mandate for forming the next coalition government.
It is assumed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will receive the mandate, as at present, prior to the official announcement of the final election results, Likud is the largest party and the right-wing bloc has a significant 65-55 majority over the left-wing/centrist bloc.
PM Netanyahu will face many challenges until announcing his next coalition, as he will be able to accommodate some of the demands, while others will be more in the realm of problematic to ‘not happening’.
One of the challenges facing Netanyahu will be that of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party. During the election campaign, Lieberman spoke of his unyielding position regarding the draft law, insisting he will demand that no changes are made to the current draft of the bill, which was approved by the IDF and Defense Ministry. Lieberman told his constituents that this will be a demand in coalition talks. Other demands include the cessation of DNA tests by the Chief Rabbinate towards establishing their Jewishness.
Adding to Shas’ woes is it is reported that Lieberman is beginning to look at the Interior Ministry, the ministry responsible for recognizing a person as Jewish for purposes of granting citizenship.
Ironically, the major issue will likely surround the draft bill, which sparked the dissolving of the last Knesset and early elections, and now, the Chareidim and Netanyahu will find themselves in the exact place they left off before announcing early elections. Lieberman is likely to receive backing for his position by numerous opposition parties in Knesset, and any chareidi-friendly draft law will also be challenged in the High Court of Justice.
Leaders of the chareidi factions in Knesset, Moshe Gafne, Yaakov Litzman and Aryeh Deri met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday morning.
There is also the matter of the new Conversion Law that Deri is pushing, with the chareidi parties expressing tenacious opposition to the recommendations of the government-appointment committee headed by former Likud minister, Moshe Nissim. Avigdor Lieberman remains an adamant opponent of Deri’s Conversion Law.
At the end of 2018, the state requested a six-month extension on legislating a new Conversion Law from the High Court of Justice based on the recommendations of the Nissim Committee. In addition, three Rishon L’Tzions spoke out in uncertain terms against the state committee for giyur and its recommendations.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)