'Netanyahu won't form gov't this week'

Israel Radio reports PM-designate to ask president for 14 more days as talks with Shas, UTJ continue.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 17, 2009 15:59
1 minute read.
'Netanyahu won't form gov't this week'

netanyahu in knesset 248.88. (photo credit: GPO [file])

 
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Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu will not complete his coalition building this week and will therefore be forced to ask President Shimon Peres for a 14-day extension, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday. Likud and Shas renewed their talks on Tuesday morning, and among other issues, the two sides discussed the ultra-Orthodox party's demands for Israel Lands Authority reforms. The two parties were not yet expected to sign a deal. Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism said that the coalition talks with Likud were "sluggish." The party has reportedly demanded the Religious Affairs Ministry and a deputy ministry in the Prime Minister's Office in charge of the Israel Lands Authority. Both positions have already been promised to Shas. The party has also demanded a ministry for haredi education as part of the Education Ministry expected to go to Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar, and it is also waiting for answers on child welfare and yeshiva budgets. Another key to reaching a deal with UTJ is the party's rabbis agreeing to compromises reached between Israel Beiteinu and Shas on civil unions for couples seeking to be legally recognized without a religious ceremony in order to receive state benefits. Habayit Hayehudi, another party Netanyahu is counting on for his coalition, was in danger of splitting up despite its having only three MKs. Party chairman Daniel Herschkowitz is under enormous pressure to quit the Knesset when he becomes a minister when the government is formed in order to allow the next name on the party list, former MK Nisan Slomiansky, to enter the Knesset. But so far, Herschkowitz has refused to give up his seat in the parliament. Top party activists and interest groups are concerned that if Herschkowitz becomes a minister and his no. 2, MK Zevulun Orlev, a deputy minister, Habayit Hayehudi will only have one active MK, Uri Orbach, to fight for the party's causes in the Knesset.

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