Negotiating teams of Yamina and Yesh Atid met with representatives of their potential coalition partners on Sunday in an effort to swear in a new government by the end of the week.
Yamina Party chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid want the deal done this week because the Shavuot holiday is next Monday, and Bennett is under intense pressure from the Right to not give into Lapid.
Posts on social media on Sunday displayed a death notice for Bennett, and a protest was held on Sunday night outside the Tel Aviv home of Bennett’s No. 2 in Yamina, MK Ayelet Shaked.
Coalition agreements must be submitted 24 hours ahead of a vote, so they would have to be completed by Wednesday to vote in the government on Thursday.
Bennett made significant progress in a meeting with the Ra’am Party (United Arab List) head Mansour Abbas on Sunday, and he will meet with him again with Lapid on Monday, as negotiating teams will try to finalize a full coalition agreement with Ra’am. Abbas will not become a minister, but his party will be an official part of the coalition in return for several economic steps that help his Arab constituents.
“Mansour wants to vote in favor, not abstain, so we are trying to finalize a deal with him to get his votes,” a source in Yamina said.
Lapid will also meet on Monday with Joint List leaders Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi in an effort to persuade them to abstain in a vote on the new government. But Abbas wants full credit for whatever he delivers for the Arab sector and does not want to share it with his rivals.
Teams from Labor, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White met the Yamina and Yesh Atid negotiators. Lapid made an effort to deny reports that Labor leader Merav Michaeli was asking for too much for her party and derailing a new government.
“Michaeli is a central and very positive force in the establishment of a unity government and is working together with us, responsibly, in full coordination,” Lapid wrote on Twitter. “I am looking forward to working with her in the government.”
Sources working on the formation of a new government said it was more problematic that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was still trying to woo Yamina and prevent agreements from being reached. The sources saw a letter from United Torah Judaism MKs Meir Porush and Yisrael Eichler to Netanyahu on Sunday, urging him to enable someone else on the Right to form a government, as part of that maneuver.
The UTJ MKs suggested that if someone else led the Right, New Hope could join a coalition instead of enabling a government with Lapid. They expressed hope that additional elections could be avoided.
“We have no interest in reaching a fifth election that can end with the Right and the haredim losing,” they wrote.
Shas leader Arye Deri responded that he and his party remain loyal to Netanyahu. Likud sources called the letter an internal matter in UTJ.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz told Sunday’s cabinet meeting that the outgoing government was about to be replaced.
“I hope we embark on a new path soon, a path of unity without fighting and discord,” he said.
Meanwhile, the date for Israel’s elections for president may be announced on Monday. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin will present a potential date to his deputies, and if the date is accepted by them, it will be announced. The election must legally be held between May 31 and June 9.