Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with the heads of United Torah
Judaism as early as Tuesday to round out his meetings with coalition partners
ahead of his final decision about initiating early elections.
Shas, Yisrael Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi leaders have advised Netanyahu to
initiate early elections rather than try to pass the 2013 state budget. UTJ
leader Ya’acov Litzman is expected to tell Netanyahu that he prefers early
elections to compromising on the budget.
“[Litzman] will not tolerate any
reduction whatsoever in child welfare payments,” a source close to him said. “He
will make this clear to the prime minister. The budget can indeed lead to early
With God’s help, we will get stronger in elections.
timing doesn’t matter.”
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said he
considered early elections inevitable, because none of the Likud’s coalition
partners appeared ready to compromise.
He confirmed that the prime
minister scolded Independence Party leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for
acting too independently on foreign policy in a latenight meeting between the
two on Saturday night.
Barak’s associates said those who suggested that
the dispute between Netanyahu and Barak was fabricated were exaggerating just as
much as those who called it a fierce clash.
“The disagreement between the
two was real, but the problems were solved and everything is fine now,” a source
close to Barak said.
Netanyahu’s associates said the prime minister had
briefly considered firing Barak due to his insubordination but from now on he
intended to maintain peaceful relations with his defense minister and that he
would not be fired ahead of the elections.
Following the hour-and-ahalf-
long meeting on Saturday night, Barak’s office released a statement saying that
the two men had agreed to continue working together to overcome Israel’s
“Barak and Netanyahu see eye-to-eye on every aspect of
the Iranian threat, as well as the relationship with the United States under the
prime minister’s leadership,” the statement read.
The dispute between the
two broke out on Tuesday when a conversation between Netanyahu and Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz – in which the prime minister said Barak was undermining
him during recent meetings in the US – was leaked to the press.
The meetings in question included one with
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, a close ally of US President Barack Obama, which
Netanyahu learned about from the press, and another with Obama’s national
security adviser, Tom Donilon, to which Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was not
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said on Monday night that she
still believed the dispute was fabricated.
“Everything was part of their
show,” she said.