Last Ditch Effort to Avoid Elections by 'Enlisting' Hareidim

The parties remaining in the coalition can garner a 61-seat majority if the hareidi factions join them, which can grow to 63 with Kadima.

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Gil Ronen,

Binyamin Netanyahu with Shas head Aryeh Deri
Binyamin Netanyahu with Shas head Aryeh Deri
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Reportedly elements within the ruling Likud party are making last ditch efforts to avoid elections by getting the two hareidi parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) – to join the coalition instead of Hatnua and Yesh Atid, which have been booted from it.

In addition, the two-seat Kadima party is also being wooed. If the hareidi parties join, the coalition will have a razor-thin majority of 61 MKs. With Kadima, that majority will grow to 63.

Meanwhile, sources in Yesh Atid say that there are efforts by coalition parties to cause a split in Yesh Atid and thus harvest additional MKs for the coalition, who would be willing to sit in the government with the hareidim - the party has shown a distinct anti-hareidi bent.

Sources cited on Channel 2 News said that offers in that vein have been made to Education Minister Shai Piron, who rejected them and immediately reported them to outgoing Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid's chairman.

The main obstacle preventing a coalition with hareidim is reportedly Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of Yisrael Beytenu, who will have to soften his position on the issues of hareidi military enlistment and the conversion law for the hareidim to agree to join the government.

These efforts are seen as unlikely to succeed, and the Knesset will most probably finalize a vote on Monday to dissolve itself, and begin a recess that will last until the 20th Knesset is elected on March 17.