With time running out for the presentation of a government, Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed his frustration with what Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu sources called the “inflexibility” of Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid. According to the sources, the Likud has made major concessions to Lapid's demands, such as agreeing to a government of only 20 ministers. But when Netanyahu asked Lapid to compromise, the latter refused – and as a result, the sources said, Netanyahu may seek alternative partners, such as the hareidi parties.
According to Channel 10, the main bone of contention between Netanyahu and Lapid – and the reason a coalition agreement has not yet been signed – is Lapid's insistence that the Education Ministry be given to his party exclusively.
Lapid is said to have former educator Rabbi Shai Piron, number two on the Yesh Atid list, in mind for the job. However, Netanyahu wants Gideon Sa'ar, current Education Minister, to remain at the post. The reason, according to sources, is not necessarily internal Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu politics, but because Netanyahu wants to ensure that the hareidi education system gets a fair shake, even if hareidi parties do not join the government. Sa'ar was considered a good minister, who effected positive changes in the school system in cooperation with the teacher's unions.
Netanyahu, the report said, has offered to rotate the Education Ministry between Sa'ar and Yesh Atid, but Lapid has rejected this deal. The report added that Netanyahu is determined not to concede on this point – but because he must present a government by the weekend, the Prime Minister is looking at options. According to Channel 10, Netanyahu told Lapid he was giving him until Wednesday to work out all the outstanding issues and sign a coalition agreement. If he does not do so, Netanyahu will turn to Shas and United Torah Jewry for help in forming a government.
However, the report said, sources close to Netanyahu, chief among them Avigdor Lieberman, have advised the Prime Minister to concede to Lapid rather than turn to the hareidim, because the latter will “squeeze” Netanyahu for concessions, using the deadline to their advantage.
Channel 10 also said that the first cracks in the alliance between Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid are evident, as both parties are seeking to head the Knesset Finance Committee.