The coalition negotiation teams of the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu and the Bayit Yehudi met on Friday for a discussion that was held “in good spirits”, according to both sides.
However, no progress was made that could ensure the Bayit Yehudi will join the coalition.
The meeting dealt mainly with the most pressing issue on the agenda in recent weeks - equal sharing in the burden of service. During the meeting, the Bayit Yehudi team presented its comments on the outline for hareidi enlistment that was presented by Prof. Eugene Kandel from the National Economics Council.
Kandel’s outline is essentially an upgrade of the outline proposed in the past by Minister Moshe Yaalon. It focuses on recruitment goals and not quotas and would extend army recruitment to the age of 26.
In addition, the Bayit Yehudi asked the Likud for clarifications regarding the coalition agreement signed earlier this week with Hatnua chaired by Tzipi Livni. Bayit Yehudi has expressed its dissatisfaction at the fact that Livni is being given the right to be responsible for the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as part of the agreement.
The talks between the two parties are expected to continue in the coming days. The parties have agreed at this point that another meeting will be held early next week and will deal mostly with the budget that will need to be passed once a new coalition is formed.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly told his negotiating team, according to the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, to “do whatever is necessary” to bring the Bayit Yehudi into the coalition.
Likud was reportedly upset by the Jewish Home party’s agreement with Yesh Atid early in the coalition talks process, while the Jewish Home was insulted by a Likud coalition offer that avoided mention of basic issues such as the budget and included an ultimatum.
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett met Thursday with Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Shaul Mofaz of Kadima in his home in Raanana. The three discussed their views on the subject of hareidi-religious army service.
According to one analysis, Bennett is likely to ask for the Finance Ministry, while Lapid will ask for the Foreign Ministry and Mofaz will seek the Defense Ministry.
Kadima’s number two, MK Yisrael Hasson, said on Friday that his party will not enter the government if no agreement is reached on the principle of equal burden of service. Interviewed by Army Radio, Hasson said that Kadima was not "in Netanyahu's back pocket" and will not be a partner in a coalition that does not regulate the issue.
Regarding Thursday's meeting between the three party chairmen, Hasson said, "There is a common interest that we agree to and that's why there were discussions yesterday. The meeting was designed to coordinate a line on which we will not compromise - and we don't intend to compromise."
(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.)