Bayit Yehudi asks for settlement construction guarantee in coalition talks

Demand could result in a confrontation with the Supreme Court and US President Barack Obama.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
April 6, 2015 18:29
2 minute read.
Homes in the Beit El settlement, West Bank

Homes in the Beit El settlement, West Bank . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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The Likud's coalition negotiating team met with representatives of Bayit Yehudi for more than three hours Monday but both sides reported afterward that no significant progress was made.

Because the Knesset is closed for the Passover holiday, the teams met at the Tel Aviv office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorney, David Shimron. It was the third meeting between representatives of the two parties since Netanyahu received a mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin two weeks ago.

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The issues discussed on Monday included funding for religious Zionist high schools and Bayit Yehudi’s request to guarantee construction in Judea and Samaria, a demand that could result in a confrontation with the Supreme Court and US President Barack Obama.

The participants also discussed how to reach a compromise over conversion and military service for haredim (ultra-Orthodox). These issues are expected to cause a confrontation inside the next coalition, with Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu on one side and Shas and United Torah Judaism on the other.The same issues were discussed Monday in a meeting Netanyahu held with UTJ heads Ya’acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni. The matters of budgets for yeshivas and child welfare payments have been worked out with UTJ, but conversion and haredi service remain points of contention.

UTJ and Shas barred their coalition negotiating teams from discussing budgets with the Likud team during the intermediate days of the Passover holiday, so it is assumed that Netanyahu and the UTJ MKs discussed portfolios.

It was initially expected that there would be no problem with portfolios for UTJ and Shas. But Kulanu caused a dispute by demanding the chairmanship of he Knesset Finance Committee, which has been demanded by UTJ, and the Building Planning Committee of the Interior Ministry, a portfolio that will be given to Shas leader Arye Deri.

There also remain portfolio disputes with Bayit Yehudi that cannot be resolved because party leader Naftali Bennett is on vacation. Bennett is still seeking to become defense minister or foreign minister, while the Likud wants his party to make do with the Education and Agriculture ministries.



Bayit Yehudi has demanded that the Religious Affairs Ministry not be given to Shas. It might end up going to a Likud MK, with deputy ministers from Bayit Yehudi and Shas.

No coalition talks will be held Tuesday. Negotiations are set for Wednesday with Yisrael Beytenu.

It will be only the second meeting for Likud with Yisrael Beytenu’s representatives.

After two meetings with Kulanu did not go well, no meetings are set with its coalition negotiating team. Likud negotiating team member Yariv Levin said Kulanu’s demands were “in the sky.”

The Likud agreed to give the Finance portfolio to Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon, but would not give in to his party’s demands for the Knesset Finance Committee, Housing and Environmental Protection ministries, and control of the Building Planning Committee and Israel Lands Authority.

Once a government is formed, Kahlon will have a short time to get the 2015 state budget passed. One possible deadline is July 1, which would require changing former finance minister Yair Lapid’s proposed budget immediately.

Finance Ministry officials were quoted Monday saying that Kahlon should pass Lapid’s proposed budget with only limited changes. Kahlon is not expected to agree.

The Kulanu leader intends to appoint a new director-general and staff for his ministry, and to change many of its policies completely.

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