MK Elkin Reminds Lapid: 19 Seats is No Majority
Yesh Atid should remember that, despite its being the second largest party in the Knesset, it does not have a majority and will have to compromise on some issues, MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) said on Thursday.
Speaking to Army Radio, MK Elkin referred to the many demands being imposed by Yair Lapid’s party as a condition for its entering the coalition, saying, “I think Yesh Atid is going through the process of adapting to the political system. All its members are new to the system and it takes time to know how to connect the achievement in the elections with joining the coalition."
He added, however, that “19 seats is still not 61 seats and with all due respect you can’t get to do everything you want with 19 seats. You need to connect to other forces if you want to have an influence.”
"If the goal is to establish a wide coalition then everyone should make compromises, and it is clear that the public wants a coalition consisting of as many parties as possible. Yair Lapid’s surge in the polls occurred after he said he’d enter the Netanyahu government,” said Elkin.
In exchange for being part of the coalition, Lapid has demanded that yeshiva students be drafted into the army, that the Cabinet not contain ministers without portfolios in order to save money, and that Israel resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
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, which means that there is almost no way to include hareidi parties, traditionally partners in Likud coalitions, in a coalition with Lapid.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Lapid on Thursday in order to convince him to ease up on his demands on hareidi enlistment. The meeting was described as positive and political sources said that progress was made.
Netanyahu, who has reportedly gotten frustrated with Lapid over his demands, has also been speaking with other parties such as Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua, in an attempt to send Lapid a hint that there are other coalition partners besides him.
The Prime Minister said several times that he would be willing to restart stalled peace talks with the PA, which Livni has made a top priority, thus making her a possible coalition partner.
This week, Netanyahu also met with Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich. While Yechimovich agreed to meet, and even termed the meeting “interesting,” she insisted afterward that there is no chance her party will join the government.
Next week the Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet with Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett.