Amid warnings of new elections, coalition talks remain stalled

Despite threats by Netanyahu to dissolve Knesset and go to new elections, haredi lawmakers and Yisrael Beytenu fail to reach compromise.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Avidgor Liberman (right) and Aryeh Deri (left)
Avidgor Liberman (right) and Aryeh Deri (left)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Marathon coalition talks led by the Likud’s negotiating team failed to achieve a breakthrough with either the haredi factions or the Yisrael Beytenu party overnight, leaving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempt to form the 35th Government of Israel stalled as the May 29th deadline approaches.

Netanyahu, who was tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, passed the initial 28-day deadline to secure majority support in the 120-member Knesset. He was granted a 14-day extension, giving him until this Wednesday to sign coalition agreements with enough parties to win the backing of 61 MKs.

Pursuing a narrow right-wing – religious coalition, Netanyahu will require the support of five parties to secure a majority, including the haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism factions, the secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu, the center-right Kulanu, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties.

But the Likud has thus far failed to bring the two haredi parties and Yisrael Beytenu together with a compromise agreement on what was perhaps the thorniest issue for the previous government – the future of the draft deferment program for yeshiva students.

While the haredi factions have pushed for a bill which would bypass a Supreme Court ruling striking down the current system, Yisrael Beytenu has demanded the passage of a bill which would retain most of the deferment program, while imposing some measures to encourage greater haredi enlistment, including sanctions on yeshivas which do not meet draft quotas.

The Likud’s negotiating team conducted marathon talks overnight with Shas, UTJ, and Yisrael Beytenu, but failed to bring the parties closer to a compromise agreement, despite warnings by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that failure to reach a compromise would lead to snap elections.

Yisrael Beytenu offered to permit the haredi factions to abstain from backing the draft bill in a Knesset vote – so long as the bill receives the support of the remainder of the coalition government.

Both Shas and UTJ refused the offer.

MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) told Galei Tzahal – Army Radio that would not budge from its position, arguing that the bill the party supports is itself a compromise.

“It’s nothing personal, but we cannot make a compromise on a compromise. We recommended Netanyahu [for Premier] as we promised, but we will continue to stand by our position.”