Daily Israel Report

Lapid and Bennett Friendly Again

Heads of Secularist Yesh Atid and religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi meet, agree on hareidi draft bill.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/30/2013, 11:15 AM

Lapid and Bennett talk during Knesset session
Lapid and Bennett talk during Knesset session
Flash 90

Yair Lapid, Head of the secularist Yesh Atid party, and Naftali Bennett, Head of the religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi, met Sunday and patched up differences that were threatening to derail the political pact between them, reported Maariv Tuesday.

The two reportedly have reached understandings regarding the bill that would make it more difficult for young hareidi men to avoid enlistment to the IDF. Discussion of the bill in a special committee headed by MK Ayelet Shaked will be accelerated, with the aim of bringing it before the Knesset by November.

The unexpected political pact between the two parties made the current ruling coalition possible. Lapid and Bennett agreed that neither one would enter the coalition without the other, thus forcing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take them both in, and to leave out the hareidi parties.

This pact has frayed somewhat since the government was formed in March, and there was growing tension between the parties over the cuts in yeshiva budgets and legislation regarding wedge issues along the religious-secular divide, such as civil marriage.

However, the two party leaders decided to meet and patch up their relationship, because both parties fear a situation in which they could be pushed out of the coalition, and hareidi parties or leftist ones join in their stead.

Maariv quoted sources “acquainted with the content of the meeting” as saying the meeting was “very good” and that the two can once again say, as they did earlier this year, that “they agree on 70% of the issues and disagree on 30%.”

"From now on, Bennett and Lapid are going back to coordinating their positions,” the sources said. “They understand that maintaining and strengthening the pact is in the interest of both of them.”