Coalition talks between Yesh Atid and Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud Beytenu faction are "in crisis", senior Yesh Atid sources said Wednesday, citing a row over the size of the next government. "Likud is not prepared to give up on 28 ministers," the source told The Jerusalem Post's sister outlet The Post, adding that Likud claims it cannot tell ministers in the last goverment that they cannot be ministers in the next one.
Yesh Atid, which wants the next coalition government to consist of a trim cabinet with fewer than 18 ministers, on Wednesday morning cancelled its scheduled coalition talks with Likud Beytenu officials. A government of 18 ministers costs millions of shekels less than one of 28, said Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a source in Likud doubted that the reason cited for Yesh Atid's walk was meant as a distraction from the question why the party would not accept the Finance Ministry.
Yesh Atid became Israel's second largest party in the January elections, winning an unexpected 19 seats. The party leader, Yair Lapid, has formed an alliance with the head of Bayit Yehudi, Naftali Bennett, and the two are using their combined muscle of 31 seats in the Knesset as leverage during coalition negotiations.
Both parties are insisting that the next government act to draft the ultra-Orthodox for national service, a move that the haredi parties oppose. Both Lapid and Bennett are also pushing for Netanyahu to exclude the haredi parties from the next government.