After three weeks of coalition talks, there has been no significant progress in
negotiations between the two largest factions, Likud Beytenu and Yesh Atid, on
the key issue of how to equalize the burden of IDF service.
But Yesh Atid
did compromise on the issue for the first time over the weekend in ongoing talks
with its political ally, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett.
to a Channel 10 report confirmed by both parties, Lapid agreed to Bennett’s
request to increase the number of haredim who would be given draft exemptions
from 400 to 2,000. He also acquiesced to haredim being drafted at age 21 rather
Bayit Yehudi representatives will discuss such compromises with
their Likud Beytenu counterparts on Sunday after rejecting the Likud’s plan for
equalizing the burden of service in a meeting on Friday. At the meeting, Bayit
Yehudi representatives also raised the issue of compelling haredim to study the
core curriculum, including English and math. Such issues were also raised in a
Likud meeting on Friday with Shas leaders.
Labor chairwoman Shelly
Yacimovich blasted the political partnership of Lapid and Bennett in a letter to
her supporters on Saturday.
“There is a ridiculous notion that has been
promoted by brothers Lapid and Bennett, as if all of Israel’s problems will be
solved if only more haredim are drafted to the IDF,” Yacimovich wrote. “We will
lead the opposition and not join the government, not because we are
disqualifying one party or another, but because our ideology does not intersect
that of the government.”
In Bayit Yehudi’s talks with Likud Beytenu,
Bayit Yehudi representatives asked to reopen the deal Likud Beytenu reached last
Tuesday with The Tzipi Livni Party. But a source in Bayit Yehudi said the
changes requested were not drastic and that Livni could live with
“Opening a deal that has been made is not ethical,” Livni warned in
an interview on Saturday night on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program. “I don’t
think the prime minister would break an agreement with me, I don’t think Yair Lapid would agree to that, and I won’t let
it happen. I will stand for all the commitments in the agreement being
maintained, period. These commitments were made to me, to my party and to
Livni blasted Lapid for making a deal with Bayit Yehudi,
which she called a party that represents the opposite of what we in the
Center-Left bloc want to advance. She expressed hope that both Yesh Atid and
Labor would join her in the government.
“I hope Labor’s decision to
remain in the opposition is not final,” she said. “My joining is an opportunity
for Labor to reconsider. Shelly should realize the situation has
Defending her decision to join Netanyahu’s government, she said
that “to be at the center of decision-making is not being a fig leaf.”
have not folded up any of my banners,” she said. “I didn’t do this for the
personal good of Tzipi Livni. I came back to advance issues that are important
for the country.
I could not have stood on the side and raised my hands
[in despair] when I could contribute.”
Bayit Yehudi’s chief coalition
negotiator MK Uri Ariel called talk of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
initiating a new election because the coalition might not be able to be formed
nothing more than political spin.
Ben Caspit reported on Friday in The
’s Hebrew sister newspaper Sof Hashavua
that if a new election
were initiated, former prime minister Ehud Olmert would run.
running this time because the last election proved the public does not really
want Netanyahu,” Olmert was quoted as saying in closed conversations. “I don’t
care what my chances are or what people say. If Bibi doesn’t form a government
and there will be new elections, I am running.”
dismissed the report as speculation.