Coalition deal to require peace treaty referendum

Bayit Yehudi won't sign agreement including mention of two-state solution; Yesh Atid shows flexibility on number of ministries.

Lapid at faction meeting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lapid at faction meeting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Coalition talks continued to inch forward on Thursday, with only nine days left until the deadline for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government.
The Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi negotiating teams met in the evening and agreed to some of the terms of their coalition agreement, foremost of which being that any peace treaty will be brought to a national referendum before being ratified by the Knesset.
In addition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s June 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, in which he called for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, will not be mentioned in the coalition’s guidelines.
The one coalition agreement Likud Beytenu signed so far, with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, says that a peace treaty would have to be brought to a government and Knesset vote, and a referendum only “if necessary.”
Netanyahu and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid met on Thursday, coming closer to a final agreement.
The prime minister is standing firm on his promise to save the Foreign Ministry for Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman until after his legal troubles pass. Likud Beytenu maintained its offer for Lapid to be finance minister, which he does not want, and Netanyahu’s negotiating team is working to find the right portfolio for the Yesh Atid leader.
Yesh Atid showed readiness to be more flexible on the number of ministries, accepting a drop from 30 to 23, or 24 after Liberman’s return, instead of the party’s campaign promise of 18.
In addition, a law will be passed within a month of the government being sworn in that there can only be up to 18 ministers, starting from after the next election.
Both Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi dealt with religion and state issues, with some major differences in their stances, despite their alliance.
Yesh Atid demanded public transportation on Saturdays, the legalization of civil marriages for same-sex couples and the requiring of all schools, including haredi ones, to study the core curriculum.
The party has a detailed plan for haredi enlistment, which would require them to join the IDF or national service at age 18, following a five-year period in which the ultra-Orthodox would be encouraged to join the workforce.
Bayit Yehudi’s requests were made in more general terms, such as “a commitment to new discourse on matters of religion and state in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance” and “a commitment to create solutions for haredim in the IDF and national service by creating new options that suit this public, and not by compulsion.”
The party opposes gay marriage and supports civil unions only in cases in which both members of the couple are not Jewish, and will only back transportation on Saturdays in non-haredi areas and if religious drivers will not be pressured to work on Shabbat.
On Wednesday night, a senior Yesh Atid official informed the media that Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Kadima are forming a 33-MK bloc – two seats larger than Likud Beytenu – and demanding the Foreign and Finance ministries.
Soon afterward, Lapid and Bennett posted Facebook statuses taking issue with those calling the tactic an “ultimatum.”
Kadima would not confirm the Yesh Atid official’s statements, saying only that the three parties have been working together for several weeks.