Binyamin Netanyahu and Reuven Rivlin on Sunday met with Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman in an effort to persuade Lieberman to drop some of his ministerial requests.
The move follows harsh criticism in Netanyahu’s Likud Party, accusing the party leader of giving too many cabinet posts to other parties. At present, Lieberman is not showing any willingness to comply with the request, realizing he is presently in a position to flex his political muscle.
While the issue of the cabinet posts remains open, there has been agreement on a number of issues, including a benefit package for soldiers and people in Sheirut Leumi; combing local municipalities; and a hard-line government policy towards Hamas.
Measures are also being taken to add a modicum of stability to the coalition, which appears will number 65, that a successful no-confidence motion will not automatically topple the coalition without successfully presenting an alternative coalition; a budget-related bill will require at least 55 votes instead of the current 50; a vote to dissolve the Knesset will demand a minimum vote of 65; and one-third of a party or a minimum of seven MKs may break away to launch a new party. The last clause Likud hopes will provide a framework for some of the disgruntled Kadima members to break away and join the coalition.
Reportedly, there is anger among members of Ichud HaLeumi, Shas and Bayit Yehudi after reports indicate Likud has promised Lieberman’s party a large number of cabinet appointments while no coalition agreements have been signed.
One of the interesting demands of Ichud HaLeumi is to appoint MK Uri Ariel deputy defense minister. Such a request is not likely to be accepted by Netanyahu.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)