Lapid: Talks to form coalition 'far from over'

PM has begun negotiating a coalition without the haredi parties as pact between Bayit Yehudi and Lapid continues to hold.

Yair Lapid 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yair Lapid 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said Monday that negotiations to form the next government coalition were "far from over."

Speaking at a Yesh Atid faction meeting, Lapid stated that "there are still a number of issues that have not been solved.

Lapid expressed hope that "together with the prime minister and the potential [coalition] partners, we will form a government that is good for the state and we will work to improve the lives of the citizens of Israel, including the haredi citizens.

Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett expressed the hope on Monday that ongoing coalition talks with Netanyahu would soon lead to the formation of a new Israeli government.

"I hope that Israel will have a government soon," Bennett told Walla! news, a day after he met with Netanyahu to discuss terms for joining the coalition. Bennett has teamed up with Lapid to create a solid front aimed at excluding the ultra-Orthodox parties from the next coalition. With Yesh Atid's 19 seats and Bayit Yehudi's 12 seats, united the two parties have equal prominence in the next Knesset as Netanyahu's Likud-Beytenu faction.

While Netanyahu initially accused Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi of an "unacceptable" boycott of an entire population group, the Lapid-Bennett tactic seemed to have paid off Sunday. The prime minister began working on formulating a coalition without the haredi parties, first breaking the news to Shas and then resuming his talks with Bayit Yehudi.

Even so, the negotiations between Netanyahu and his one-time aide Bennett are not running entirely smoothly. Attorney David Shimron, head of the Likud-Beytenu negotiating team on Sunday continued his attacks on the Bayit Yehudi party over its refusal to join the coalition without Yesh Atid.

In an interview with Army Radio, Shimron also ridiculed Bennett's request that Likud-Beytenu cancel its coalition agreement with Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party. "Is this a child's game?" What is this nonsense?" he asked.

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said Monday that despite calls for the party to join Netanyahu's coalition, deep ideological differences still exist and the party is preparing to be in the oppostion.

Speaking at a Labor party faction meeting, Yacimovich stated that was preparing "an effective and combative opposition that will be much more effective than sitting in a coalition whose policies will be dictated by Netanyahu."

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.