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      PM Expected to Try to 'Sell' Lapid on a Hareidi Govt.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid to convince him to 'go easy' on the hareidi draft issue
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 2/7/2013, 8:48 AM

      Yair Lapid
      Yair Lapid
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, in an apparent attempt by Netanyahu to convince Lapid to ease up on his demands for the yeshiva student draft, political analysts said. As it stands now, there is almost no way to include hareidi parties Shas and United Torah Jewry, traditionally partners in Likud coalitions,  in a coalition in which Lapid will be a senior member.

      According to plans promoted by Lapid, only 400 of the top scholars in yeshivas would receive exemptions from military service. Everyone else would have to serve in the army, or at least national service. Lapid has repeatedly said that he does not intend to compromise on this position, and that the price for his Yesh Atid's joining of a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu would be the latter's acceptance of this point.

      Nevertheless, Netanyahu is hoping to convince Lapid to temper his positions on the matter. Netanyahu will tell Lapid that he sees the hareidi parties as his “natural partners” for a coalition. Lapid has been quoted as saying that he would have no problem with Yesh Atid's remaining out of the government, if necessary.

      Also unclear are Netanyahu's plans for the religious Zionist Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party. Analysts said that it was unlikely that Netanyahu would try to set up a government with just Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, but if he could work out a deal between Lapid and the hareidi parties, he could conceivably leave Jewish Home out of the government. Although this works numerically, this would be an extreme policy turn-around for Lapid and might anger his constituents.

      Although far-left Meretz is an unlikely candidate for the government, Netanyahu will meet with Meretz party head Zehava Gal-on Thursday. She is expected to ask Netanyahu to make efforts to restart discussions with the Palestinian Authority.