Coalition talks will not end by the deadline on Saturday night, when Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to meet with President Shimon Peres to ask for
a two-week extension to form a government.
Netanyahu’s office scheduled
the meeting with Peres on Wednesday, a clear indicator that the coalition will
not be finalized in the coming days, despite progress in talks with Bayit Yehudi
and negotiations with Yesh Atid planned for Thursday.
According to Basic
Law: The Government, if the prime minister does not form a government on time,
he may request that the president give him an extension. The president is
allowed to decide whether to give the extension and how long it will be, up to
Peres is expected to grant Netanyahu the full extension
permitted by law, which will give him until March 16 to form a
However, according to a new legal opinion by attorneys at the
Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu only has to tell Peres he can form a
government by March 16, but does not actually need to present it until ministers
are sworn in a week later, Channel 2 reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Bayit
Yehudi demanded Likud Beytenu change its coalition agreement with The Tzipi
Livni Party, in the fourth meeting this week between the parties that ended
without any significant progress.
“The deal is a traffic accident,” MK
Uri Ariel, second on the Bayit Yehudi list and the party’s chief negotiator,
said of the coalition agreement signed with party leader Tzipi Livni, which
would make her justice minister and responsible for negotiations with the
The party did not specify what they would like to change in
the agreement with Livni, saying Likud Beytenu should tell them what they can
offer, but they are not asking for Livni to be pushed out of the
Yesh Atid, which coordinates with the Bayit Yehudi in
coalition talks, plans to make similar demands to change the deal with Livni in
negotiations that are set to continue on Thursday afternoon. Yesh Atid opposes
the fact that Livni’s party received two ministries, which means one for every
three MKs, because Yesh Atid believes the government should have no more than 18
Likud Beytenu did not officially offer Ariel the Construction
and Housing Ministry in talks on Tuesday, despite saying it would Monday night.
The parties instead spoke about issues important to Bayit Yehudi.
the issue of haredi enlistment was discussed, the parties did not make
significant progress. A Bayit Yehudi source said that Likud Beytenu seemed less
willing to accept their terms than they were in previous meetings, but are still open to
A source close to the negotiations explained that Bayit
Yehudi wants to come to agreements on economic and budgetary issues before
dealing with portfolios.
Some of the economic issues that Bayit Yehudi
plans to raise in a meeting with Likud Beytenu and National Economic Council
chairman Eugene Kandel after press time Wednesday include making Sundays
vacation days, and a law breaking market concentration.
month, Kandel presented a plan for equality in the burden of national service
that does not include quotas for the number of yeshiva students who can be
exempt from enlisting in the IDF or civilian service.
Kandel also led a
committee in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2011- 2012 that was tasked with
examining the possibility of a five-day workweek in Israel.
Wednesday, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich reiterated that she would not join the
coalition, despite continued reports that Likud Beytenu offered her party a
number of portfolios, including Finance; Industry, Trade and Labor; and Welfare
and Social Services.
Yacimovich explained that there is a “massive gap”
between the parties’ ideologies, and that Netanyahu would have to totally change
his positions for Labor to join his coalition.
She added that she is
skeptical that scenario would ever take place.
The Labor leader also
accused the prime minister of “modeling” a diplomatic process, saying he would
not truly seek peace.
However, if Netanyahu presents a peace initiative
to the Palestinians, Yacimovich said her party would support it from the
opposition, and would consider joining the coalition if necessary to push
through a peace agreement.