Former negotiators: Coalition compromises inevitable

Eitan Haber says Lapid "wants things that cannot happen and will not happen," adds that if he does not compromise he will end up in opposition.

Yair Lapid at the President's residence 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yair Lapid at the President's residence 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The heads of negotiating teams in past coalition talks cautioned the public Monday against taking too seriously demands and threats issued in the current round of talks taking place at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel.
Attorney Yoram Raved, who headed the Likud’s negotiating team in 2005, said that despite tough talk from Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid about remaining outside the coalition, he sees Lapid playing a central role in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.
Raved said Lapid had learned from mistakes made four years ago by then-Kadima head Tzipi Livni, who did not join Netanyahu’s government and was then deposed by her party colleagues.
“Lapid is flexing his muscles, but in the end of the day he will be there in the government,” Raved said.
“In the beginning parties always aim high into the sky, but then they have to compromise.
Lapid will have to find a way to compromise, as will other party heads.”
Raved said one solution could be postponing decisions on how to change the electoral system and expand haredi army service until after the coalition talks. He said Yesh Atid MKs could also be given freedom to vote according to their own discretion on key issues, and ad hoc coalitions could be formed for different matters.
The one issue where Raved believes Lapid will have no choice but to hold strong is his commitment to his voters to cut the number of cabinet ministers from 29 to 18, or not much more than that.
Eitan Haber, who served as former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s bureau chief and Labor’s chief negotiator, warned that Lapid was asking for too much.
“Lapid wants things that cannot happen and will not happen,” Haber told Army Radio. “If he does not compromise on his idealism, he will end up in the opposition.”
Former cabinet secretary Yisrael Maimon, who headed coalition teams for Kadima, called current Yesh Atid demands “unnecessary background noise that harms the atmosphere” of coalition negotiations.
But in an interview with Army Radio, Maimon said he trusted that Yesh Atid negotiator Uri Shani, who has been part of Likud and Kadima’s negotiating teams, would find a way to bring Lapid into the government.
“Uri knows he has to compromise, and his parties have always ended up in the coalition,” Maimon said.
Former minister Zevulun Orlev, who headed the National Religious Party’s negotiating teams, said there have never been so many MKs who are under the control of party leaders who are political newcomers. He said that consequently negotiations with Lapid and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett would be more complicated.
“It takes time for the new leaders to learn that politics is the art of compromise,” Orlev said. “You learn how to do it with experience. There will be more crises. You will never get everything you want, but that is OK.”