Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu and Yechimovich Meet Once Again

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Labor leader Yechimovich meet one-on-one at Netanyahu’s request.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 2/15/2013, 9:35 PM

Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich
Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yechimovich met on Friday afternoon at Netanyahu’s home.

The meeting, the second one-on-one between the two in recent weeks, was held at Netanyahu’s request.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Yechimovich said that "the meeting was held in a good atmosphere, but the gaps remain intact." She added that "there is no change in the position of the Labor party" regarding its refusal to enter Netanyahu’s coalition.

Yechimovich announced prior to the elections that she would not join Netanyahu’s government and reiterated her stance after the elections.

Last week Yechimovich also met with Netanyahu, but while she agreed to the meeting, and even termed it “interesting,” she insisted afterward that there is no chance her party will join the government.

At the same time, Labor MK Nachman Shai revealed on his website on Thursday that the Likud and the Labor party are holding talks over the possibility of Labor joining the coalition. He indicated, however, that the party was preparing for the opposition if the talks fail.

Netanyahu is currently in the process of forming his new coalition and has indicated that he would like it to be comprised of as many parties as possible.

Trying to lure Yechimovich into the government might be a result of Netanyahu’s growing frustration with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.

Lapid, who insists on implementing a program that would see yeshiva students being drafted into the army, has imposed almost impossible preconditions on entering the government.

On Thursday it was reported that Lapid is steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.

"If, on the day of the government's swearing-in, I am photographed in the Presidential Residence with a Shas minister standing next to me, I will have ended my political career," he reportedly added.

Lapid has also formed an alliance with Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett. The two reportedly agreed that Netanyahu will have either both of their parties in his coalition or neither. It is believed, however, that Netanyahu will ultimately be able to convince Bennett to join even without Lapid.

Despite Yechimovich’s refusal to join the coalition, it has been predicted in recent weeks that Netanyahu will try to lure her into the government by offering her a senior portfolio, perhaps the Finance Ministry which would allow her to promote her social agenda.

Labor would be an easier coalition partner for Netanyahu since Yechimovich has not placed an emphasis on the enlistment of yeshiva students, and has common interests with the hareidi parties over economic and social issues.

This past week, however, the Labor chairwoman rejected the rumors that Netanyahu had offered her the Finance Ministry.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)