Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu in Ottawa 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Blair Gable)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will pursue his goal of creating a coalition
of more than 80 MKs that no individual party can topple, despite personal
animosity between his wife, Sara, and the heads of Bayit Yehudi and Shas, Likud
officials said Sunday.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett sparred
frequently with Sara over money and her husband’s schedule when he served as the
then-opposition leader’s chief of staff.
Shas co-chairman Arye Deri also
angered the Netanyahu family during the campaign, when he mocked their reported
reported on Sunday that Netanyahu blamed Bennett for
leaks that led to investigations into funding of his trips abroad. The report
said that Sara “vetoed” the inclusion of Bayit Yehudi in her husband’s coalition
because of her personal grudge.
The Likud downplayed the importance of
such tension on Sunday, stating definitively that Bayit Yehudi would be part of
the prime minister’s future coalition and that Netanyahu wanted Shas as
“Despite the mudslinging that has not stopped even after the
election, the prime minister will continue to act out of purely professional
considerations,” a senior Likud source said.
“He intends to form the
widest government possible in order to deal with the challenges facing Israel’s
security and internal affairs. This wide government will also include Bayit
Yehudi,” he said.
Ayelet Shaked, who previously served as Netanyahu’s
bureau chief and is an incoming Bayit Yehudi MK, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that
neither she nor Bennett were involved in any leaks of information against the
Haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas said they
intended to raise their asking price for joining the coalition following reports
that Netanyahu would rule out Bayit Yehudi.
Informal contacts are taking
place behind the scenes between Shas and Yesh Atid in an effort to reach
compromises that would enable the two parties to coexist in a coalition despite
“We won’t sit in a government at any price,” Shas
cochairman Eli Yishai told a meeting of his faction in Jerusalem on Sunday. “We
are looking for a golden way to bridge the gap between sectors in our
The incoming Yesh Atid faction also convened Sunday for the
first time since the election.
Outgoing MKs Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) and
Zevulun Orlev (Bayit Yehudi) briefed the 19 Yesh Atid MK-elects on how to be
A Yesh Atid source said Plesner did not speak to
the group about his plan for drafting yeshiva students. The source also denied
reports that Lapid would insist on only 18 ministers being appointed to the next
cabinet, saying that the party would be happy with a reduction in size of the
cabinet and the passage of a bill to ensure an 18- minister limit following the
“We know not everything we want will change tomorrow,” a
Yesh Atid source said. “We are not naive. We certainly won’t accept as large a
government as we had before.”