Coalition chairman Yariv Levin is set to take on new challenges..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition is not currently facing any significant threat now that diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are not taking place, coalition chairman Yariv Levin said Monday.
Levin agreed to Netanyahu’s request to remain in his post until the Knesset begins its winter session in November. He expressed confidence that the coalition would be easier to run now that there was no diplomatic deal looming.
“A diplomatic agreement could have broken up the coalition,” he said. “Under the current conditions, the chances of the coalition collapsing are very small.”
Levin downplayed divides in the coalition over Netanyahu’s plan to promote a Knesset basic law defining Israel as a Jewish state.
Levin, who sponsored the legislation, said that when breaking down the clauses in his bill, the gaps between what he proposed and what Justice Minister Tzipi Livni could tolerate were bridgeable.
Livni warned in a Hatnua meeting that “there will be those who will try to take advantage of the suspension of the talks to take steps to prevent a future deal.”
She said her faction would block such moves.
“We will continue to advance efforts to reach a deal with the Palestinians,” she said. “Even under difficult circumstance, we won’t give in.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett took credit for the end of the negotiations in a meeting of his faction. He mocked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“There has been a national U-turn in the right direction,” he told his MKs. “Israel awoke from the romantic vision of a peace-loving Abbas, who is Hamas’s new BFF,” an acronym for best friend forever.
Bennett said his faction would focus on advancing a bill that passed the ministerial committee on legislation Sunday, which would permit courts to give terrorists life sentences with no potential for pardon. He said Bayit Yehudi would advance his plan to annex the areas of Judea and Samaria in which Jews live.
The idea has been endorsed by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who lives in Neveh Daniel in the West Bank, as well as Levin, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan.