Scrambling Likud Resumes Coalition Talks

18 days after receiving the mandate to form a government, Likud hopes to finally concretize deals with both United Torah Judaism and Shas.

Cynthia Blank,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives at weekly cabinet meeting
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives at weekly cabinet meeting
Emil Salman/POOL

Passover is over, and with the conclusion of the holiday, coalition negotiations between Likud and potential government partners have resumed. 

It has been 18 days since President Reuven Rivlin presented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with the mandate to form a government, and as no agreements have been made, Likud is scrambling to avoid seeking an extension. 

In addition to coalition negotiations with party representatives, Netanyahu also plans to begin meeting individually on Sunday with party heads. 

In any case, Likud's first expected meeting on Sunday will be with representatives of United Torah Judaism. Speculation has abounded in recent days that Likud is set to reach a final agreement with both UTJ and Shas toward the beginning of this week. 

The haredi parties demands are well-known: UTJ seeks the leadership of the Finance Committee for MK Moshe Gafni and the health portfolio for Yaakov Litzman. Shas, meanwhile, demands the interior portfolio for party chair Aryeh Deri as well as the religious portfolio.

Yet, a handful of their demands conflict drastically with those of Kulanu and Jewish Home, who Likud has blamed for delaying the process of forming a government. 

Speaking with reporter Yair Sharki during Mimouna celebrations Saturday night, Deri said, "as far as we're concerned, we can close a government now, the sooner the better, but it's up to others, and I hope everyone knows their place."

"Netanyahu can form a government of 67 MKs but he can also go for a wider government, depending on the conduct of the coalition partners," Deri added, alluding to a possible unity government with the Labor party. 

Indeed, Likud threatened just that last week, announcing its intentions to contact Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog should Jewish Home chair Naftali Bennett not withdraw his high demands i.e. the Foreign Ministry. 

Jewish Home responded angrily that it would not "join the coalition at any price," leaving the relationship between the two and the chances of a unity government up in the air. 




top