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Bayit Yehudi: Livni Makes Coalition Talks More Difficult

Tzipi Livni’s joining Netanyahu’s coalition will make it difficult for the Bayit Yehudi to join it, officials in the party say.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/20/2013, 6:16 AM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Yoni Kempinski

Tzipi Livni’s joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition will make it difficult for the Bayit Yehudi to join it, officials in the party said Tuesday night.

The comments came after Netanyahu held a joint press conference with Livni, announcing that she will be appointed Justice Minister and will also be in charge of leading the peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

“Leaving the negotiations (with the Palestinian Authority) in the hands of a person who conducted negotiations on dividing Jerusalem and who is responsible for the disengagement from Gaza will, without a doubt, make the coalition negotiations difficult for the Bayit Yehudi,” the party officials said.

“As we presented our views regarding the settlement enterprise and waited for answers from the Likud, it looks like Netanyahu was busy agreeing on policy positions with Tzipi Livni and Amir Peretz,” they added.

The Bayit Yehudi rejects a Palestinian state, something which Livni has advocated for, though the party does not outright reject holding talks with the PA.

The talks between the Likud and the Bayit Yehudi appeared to have hit a snag this week, particularly because of a pact between the Bayit Yehudi and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

The two parties have reportedly agreed to enter the coalition together or not at all, in an apparent attempt by both parties to guarantee a coalition ally with similar goals.

Lapid insists on implementing a program that would see yeshiva students being drafted into the army and has imposed almost impossible preconditions on entering the government, making it hard to include Bayit Yehudi as well. Lapid is reportedly steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett has also expressed strong support for a reform in hareidi enlistment, but unlike Lapid, he is willing to negotiate the matter with the hareidi leadership. 

On Monday Bennett indicated a feeling of restlessness, telling a meeting of his party that "it has already been a week and no significant negotiations have taken place" with the Likud.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu now plans to sign a coalition agreement with the Kadima party, possibly appointing its chairman, MK Shaul Mofaz, as Minister for Strategic Affairs. An agreement with Shas and United Torah Judaism is likely to follow, the report said.

Channel 10 commentators said that Likud sources had indicated that Netanyahu prefers to keep Lapid out of the coalition and has not yet given up on luring Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich into the government as well, giving him a comfortable majority. It remains to be seen whether Bayit Yehudi will indeed join the coalition if Lapid is kept out of it.