Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,JPOST STAFF)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Shas leader Arye Deri Tuesday night and marathon coalition talks will take place next week, in an effort to complete the process of forming a new government by the initial April 22 deadline.
The four-week mandate Netanyahu received from President Reuven Rivlin to form a government passed its halfway point Wednesday night. His associates said he is close to a deal with Shas and United Torah Judaism.
“It was a good meeting but nothing has been finalized and it could still take time,” a source close to Deri said. “The next step is a meeting with the Likud’s team Monday.”
The prime minister met Monday with UTJ heads Ya’acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni. He is expected to meet again with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett when Bennett returns from a family vacation.
Likud officials warned Wednesday that they “won’t wait forever” for Bayit Yehudi and Kulanu to make the concessions necessary for a deal. They threatened to try to form a government with the Zionist Union instead.
“If the factions make things difficult, we will have to explore other options,” Likud negotiating team member David Shimron told Channel 1 ahead of coalition talks with Yisrael Beytenu Wednesday afternoon at the Knesset.
But sources close to Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said there had been no contacts between his party and the Likud and that the Iranian situation does not increase the likelihood of a national unity government.
Yisrael Beytenu officials said there is no news to report from their meeting with the Likud’s negotiating team.
Channel 2 reported that the Likud is likely to accept Kulanu’s demands for the Finance, Construction and Environment ministries, and that the number of deputy ministers permitted by law would be increased even if the number of ministers would not.