WILL THEY laugh again in a few weeks? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the parties expected to join his coalition, to a special meeting at the prime minister's office Thursday night, but Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman refused to come.
The Likud reacted by bashing Liberman and warning that he could prevent Netanyahu from forming a coalition. "Liberman promised his voters that he would support the establishment of a right-wing government, led by Netanyahu," the Likud said. "He is now using excuses to prevent the formation of the government which could lead to the establishment of a left-wing government."
The stalemate Thursday was the opposite of Wednesday when the next governing coalition reported progress in negotiations, a week before the deadline for Netanyahu to form a government.
Netanyahu met on Wednesday with both Shas leader Arye Deri and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and progress was reported in both meetings.
“Things have finally started moving,” a source in Yisrael Beytenu said.
The issues moving forward with Yisrael Beytenu include taking action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, receiving the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Interior Committee, setting old-age pensions at 70 percent of minimum wage and opposing legislation that would allow DNA testing to prove whether people are Jewish.
But Liberman said Yisrael Beytenu would not join the government, unless all of the party’s demands are met, including passing a controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill with no changes.
“I am not ready for compromise,” Liberman told confidants, according to KANN. “If my conditions aren’t fully met, I won’t enter the coalition. I want the entire packet, completely, completely. I won’t concede a comma in the conscription bill.”
One possibility reportedly raised is passing the current conscription bill as is and changing it later.
In a sign that he is about to return to the Defense Ministry, Liberman met recently with IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, Shin-Bet head Nadav Argaman, and interim police inspector-general Motti Cohen, Channel 13 reported.
“Don’t give in to [Netanyahu],” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid wrote in a tweet to Liberman, who responded: that he did not seek his advice.
“I need your help, I will call, not tweet,” Liberman tweeted back to Lapid.
Channel 12 reported that the coalition agreement would include support for the Supreme Court override bill, which would allow the Knesset to reactivate laws that had been struck down by the Supreme Court by a simple majority.
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