PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu face off at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday night.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The negotiations to form Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's next government will formally begin on Sunday, when the Likud's negotiating team meets with representatives of Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party at Ramat Gan's Kfar Maccabiah Hotel.
Yisrael Beytenu officials said their party would focus in the talks on three key issues: security, immigrant absorption and matters of religion and state.
"With all our will to join the coalition and despite our flexibility, we will not concede our basic principles," Liberman wrote on Twitter on Saturday night.
The Likud's negotiating team is led by outgoing tourism minister Yariv Levin. The team includes former Netanyahu chief of staff Natan Eshel, Likud spokesman Yonatan Urich and attorney Michael Rabello of the law firm Shimron, Molho and Persky. Past Likud coalition teams were led by Netanyahu confidant David Shimron of the same law firm, but Shimron is embroiled in the Submarine Affair.
Eshel's participation in the negotiations is seen as a comeback for him. He was forced to resign in February 2012 after signing a plea bargain admitting misconduct toward a young female staffer.
The Civil Service Commission concluded its investigation into allegations that Eshel harassed a female staffer, known only as R., and invaded her privacy. Under the terms of the plea bargain, Eshel will resign from his post on March 1, and agreed not to return to the civil service.
Eshel wrote on Twitter that he was participating in the talks, because he saw it as community service.
Netanyahu is expected to meet this week with Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon to complete a series of meetings with the heads of parties expected to enter his coalition. But no date had been set for the meeting as of Saturday night.
"The meeting will probably be soon," a source close to Kahlon said. "I don't know what they're so stressed about."
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