Netanyahu and Herzog.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog would like to form a national unity government, but haven’t been able to, Economy Minister Arye Deri said in a briefing to the Knesset Correspondents’ Association on Wednesday.
Deri is skeptical that there will be any changes in the current coalition, saying that Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid do not want to join it, and Meretz and the Joint List certainly would not.
“What’s left is the Zionist Union. Both leaders [Netanyahu and Herzog] want Zionist Union in the coalition, but that is not enough,” the minister sighed. “I regret that I didn’t use the political pressure I know how to use in order to make sure a national unity government was created in the first place. We could have formed one quickly, right after the [March] election.”
The Shas chairman recounted that he always said he favored a unity government, but that he did not put much pressure on Netanyahu to form one, because he was sure that there would be a 67-seat coalition, with Yisrael Beytenu in it, instead of the current, 61-seat one.
“I saw my friend [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman as part of the bloc, and if we added Herzog, everyone would be fighting over the Foreign Ministry,” Deri explained. “I was shocked that Liberman didn’t join the coalition. There were no prior signs.”
Deri shrugged off the doomsday predictions by Liberman and others of the coalition falling apart soon and having an election next year.
“People are trying to create an elections atmosphere,” he said. “The budget will pass [in November]. We’re already past all the obstacles. Shas, Bayit Yehudi, UTJ will all vote in its favor. I don’t know anyone in the Likud who would take responsibility for an election,” Deri posited, analyzing the political situation. “The only thing that can happen is if the government chooses to disperse the Knesset and hold an election. There’s no option of taking apart this government and putting together a new one [without an election].”