Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters a press conference, February 28th, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The people of Israel and the world will only find out close to midnight’s deadline for building a coalition whether the country is headed to the formation of a new government or an unprecedented repeat election on September 17.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said no meeting was set Tuesday with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, who holds the key to the coalition’s formation, and there was no progress toward reaching a compromise with him, and the spokesman said that he “rejects every offer and continues stalling.”
Netanyahu continued preparing for an election on Tuesday. The Likud’s secretariat approved a deal to run with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s socioeconomic Kulanu Party. The prime minister’s former chief of staff Natan Eshel worked intensely to persuade Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to let Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also run with Likud.
“The more we prepare for an election, the less likely it is that there will be an election,” Netanyahu told the secretariat.
British Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund chairman Samuel Hayek, who has acted as a mediator between Netanyahu and Liberman, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night that it was too soon to give up hope.
“I am realistically optimistic, and it’s not just wishful thinking,” he said.
Liberman said Tuesday that there is no compromise that interests him, and he continues to insist on passing the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill as is.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” Liberman said.
Hayek, who is close to Liberman, said the Yisrael Beytenu leader thinks the bill is “critical for the future of our society and is already a compromise” on Liberman’s part.
“But reality in life dictates changes,” Hayek said. “That’s why good people are trying to reach compromises.”
United Torah Judaism MKs called Liberman irrational and said the main dispute is between him and Netanyahu, not with them.
But in what was seen as a positive step toward avoiding a repeat election, Liberman met with Degel Hatorah spiritual mentor Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky’s grandson, Yanky, and discussed possible solutions to the crisis.
Yanky Kanievsky is a political operative and a religious influencer who has been involved in many key recent political deals. He was credited with making the connection between Degel Hatorah and Yisrael Beytenu that led to the election of Moshe Lion as mayor of Jerusalem.
Shas and Union of Right-Wing Parties leaders are also trying to mediate between Netanyahu and Liberman. President Reuven Rivlin has decided to not intervene.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, who is close to Rivlin, pleaded with him to preempt Netanyahu initiating elections and give someone else the right to form a government.
“Prevent governmental shock and chaos, the paralysis of all our systems and a massive waste of money,” she wrote Rivlin. “There is not a single MK who actually wants to go to elections now.”
Rivlin’s office responded that until Wednesday night at midnight, Netanyahu has the right to form a government.
“The president will give him the right to use the time given to him by law,” Rivlin’s office said. “He hopes we will not be stuck with another election. The Knesset is the sovereign and will bear the consequences of its decision in the future.”
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