Binyamin Netanyahu and Eli Yisahi .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wishes he could add Shas and United Torah Judaism to his governing coalition, but Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has vetoed them, Netanyahu revealed in a weekend interview with Channel 2’s Amit Segal.
Netanyahu reached out to the haredi [ultra-Orthodox] parties in the interview, saying that when he ate at an unkosher restaurant in New York last week, he did not eat unkosher food. He said he is careful to not eat unkosher food even in private meals.
“I want a stable government and it is wrong to go to elections,” he said.. “If the coalition continues, that would be good, but if problems continue, of course we will go to elections. I have always been in favor of widening the coalition.”
Netanyahu has reportedly sent coalition chairman Yariv Levin and MK Ze’ev Elkin to try to make a deal with Yesh Atid in order to prevent problems with the party that will have one more seat than Likud in two weeks, when retiring Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar is replaced by an MK from Yisrael Beytenu.
According to the deal, Netanyau gave in on Lapid’s signature plan for zero percent VAT on some apartments for young couples who served in the army.
In return, Yesh Atid is expected to not cause the government serious problems on matters of religion and state.
In the Channel 2 interview, Netanyahu said he opposes the zero percent VAT plan and that he does not think it will succeed in lowering the cost of housing. He said he would support it only because it is important to his finance minister.
Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna said in interviews last week that he has failed to convince the rest of the MKs in his party to quit the coalition. He said he believes that if his party left, elections would take place soon that could change the political map significantly, but the other five MKs in Hatnua disagree with him.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog indicated in an interview with Makor Rishon that he has already decided which parties he would like to see in a coalition that he hopes to build after the next general election.
Herzog said he hopes to form a Center- Left bloc of parties that would run together under his leadership that would include Hatnua, Kadima, and part of Yesh Atid. He said he would invite United Torah Judaism, Shas, the party being formed by former welfare minister Moshe Kahlon, and, surprisingly, Yisrael Beytenu.
“I don’t rule out any Zionist party,” Herzog said. “I disagree with Liberman on a lot of issues. I think he is wrong in what he says about Israeli Arabs. But I respect that with him, you know what you get. He doesn’t mislead you. He tells you the truth.”