(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to form a governing coalition before Wednesday's deadline continued on Thursday with progress reported in talks with Shas.
In a telephone conversation between Netanyahu and Shas leader Aryeh Deri, the prime minister agreed to accept Deri's condition to cancel Value Added Tax on basic consumer items.
Netanyahu's move came after Deri said earlier Thursday in an Army Radio interview that he was backing off his demand to serve as interior minister in the next government.
The two faction leaders were scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Speaking on Army Radio, Deri addressed the petition which 40,000 people signed demanding that he be denied the interior minister’s post, a job which he has held in the past.
His previous term in office there resulted in a conviction for bribery.
“I don’t want to cause people to gossip and I don’t want to start my next job on the wrong foot,” Deri told Army Radio.
Deri had been seeking the interior minister position for months, but after Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon insisted on transferring the ministry’s building planning directorate to the authority of the Finance Ministry he will head, the post became less attractive.