Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 30.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a secret deal with Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) to receive their support to form a new government after the next election, Maariv's Ben Caspit reported Monday.
According to the report, Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Likud coalition chair Ze'ev Elkin reached a deal which will give benefits to the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties.
Officials in both Likud and UTJ denied the report, as Caspit wrote that they would.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi of Likud told Israel Radio that reports about an agreement were not true.
Netanyahu is due to hold a long-awaited meeting with his finance minister, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Monday in an effort to settle their differences and avoid early elections.
Netanyahu and Lapid have not met or spoken in weeks while they have argued through the press over issues such as the 2015 state budget, Lapid’s housing reform plan, and Netanyahu’s controversial “Jewish state” bill.
Sources close to Netanyahu say this is the last chance to determine whether there is enough common ground to keep the government together.
If not, Netanyahu could begin the process of initiating an election as early as later this week.
“The prime minister will tell Lapid that he will not accept the way he and his party have been behaving,” a Netanyahu associate said. “A country cannot be run this way.”
According to sources close to Netanyahu, the prime minister will complain about the Finance Ministry breaking promises to transfer billions of shekels to the defense budget and about Lapid’s efforts to form an alternative government without an election.
Lapid’s associates said he would plead with Netanyahu to pass the budget and prevent the public from suffering.
“We have said all along that our differences could be settled in two hours, so we are glad we finally get our two hours,” a source close to Lapid said.
The meeting was set after centenarian United Torah Judaism spiritual mentor Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman rejected a request
from Netanyahu to already commit to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that he form the next government after an election.
Netanyahu plans to also meet with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni. He met Sunday with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who has mediated between Netanyahu and Lapid.