Bayit Yehudi, Likud Beytenu discuss national service

Parties meet in coalition negotiations, MK Ariel says parties "mainly" discussed equalizing burden of IDF service.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Likud Beytenu held its first coalition negotiations with Bayit Yehudi in more than a week on Friday morning at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel.
Army Radio reported that the parties discussed how to equalize the burden of IDF service among other issues.
MK Uri Ariel told Army Radio the meeting was "mainly on the subject of carrying the burden."
The parties arranged another meeting to follow next week to discuss the coalition agreement.
President Shimon Peres could initiate another election if Netanyahu fails to form a government by the March 15 deadline. The prime minister’s associates have talked about forming a coalition of 57 MKs, and then telling Bennett ahead of the deadline to either join or initiate an election the Right could lose.
“There is no reason why we cannot advance and reach an agreement on a government led by the nationalist camp,” a Likud source said.
But Bayit Yehudi’s alliance with Yesh Atid has made forming a government much more difficult. Bennett and Lapid met on Thursday with Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz to coordinate strategy.
A Bayit Yehudi source said after the meeting that he believed all three parties would end up joining the coalition.
Channel 10 reported that in closed conversations, Lapid said there was no longer a reason to join the government and for him to become foreign minister, because Livni had already been given authority over negotiations with the Palestinians.
Lapid wrote on Facebook that he would not compromise on his principles even if it meant going to the opposition.
He criticized Netanyahu, saying the prime minister could have formed a productive, civil government with minimal effort two weeks ago.
Likud Beytenu’s negotiating team met late on Thursday with UTJ and was set to meet with Shas on Friday afternoon.
A group of Likud activists wrote on Thursday that Netanyahu was sacrificing his party’s principles by seeking a coalition deal with Shas and UTJ instead of Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi. They said they would draft a petition and send it to Netanyahu.
The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, who is a power broker in the Likud, condemned the agreement with Livni.
“To let Tzipi Livni conduct these negotiations, is like saying that a serious traffic offender can be the chief of the Traffic Police,” Mesika said.
“We all still remember the folly of the [2007] Annapolis Conference. Tzipi Livni is currently the most extreme representative of the Oslo concept around, and the only one who still speaks about it, while even Meretz keeps it hidden today.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.