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Lapid not sure about joining Netanyahu coalition government

February 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, the second largest party in the Israeli Knesset, has said that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to impose “strict” austerity measures on the country. According to a report broadcast on Sunday by Israeli TV Channel 2, Lapid said that, as such, following “closed discussions” he is not sure whether he is going take part in a coalition government headed by Netanyahu. He suggested that he will be able “to replace” the Prime Minister “within 18 months”.

In the wake of last month’s general election in Israel, the country’s President, Shimon Peres, has officially asked Netanyahu to start discussions to form a new government. Netanyahu is the head of the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu group, the largest parliamentary bloc.

Coalition talks have been held between Likud-Beiteinu and Yesh Atid, Jewish Home and Shas. The talks were described as “general” and participants “only discussed their parties’ intentions” sources told Channel 2.

Area Adraee from Shas said that comments made by Lapid probably means that Shas and the ultra-Orthodox Haredim should be ruled out of a government collation. He also said that the Jewish Home Party “is not going to accept Lapid’s plans” to impose national military service on the religious Haredim Jews.

In the same context, Haaretz newspaper said that the right-wing parties, including Shas, are trying to exert “religious Zionism” pressure on Jewish Home’s leader Niftali Bennett not to support Lapid’s proposals.

Haaretz quoted representatives of Jewish Home saying that they accept the notion of distributing the burden of national service across all sections of Israeli society, but the Israeli Hebrew daily Maariv reported that they do not agree fully with Yesh Atid’s goals. The latter, claims Maariv, is to bring the Netanyahu government down if it does not fulfil its aims and objectives.

“We see ourselves as a natural partner of the Likud,” said a Jewish Home official, “and look forward to serving in the next government.” Do not expect us to sit in the opposition, he told Maariv.

In the meantime, the head of Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman, has said that he plans to change the system of governance during his service in the coming government. Media reports claim that he wants to see the head of the largest party in the Knesset appointed as leader of the government, which should be no more than 18 people. A minister, proposes ex-Foreign Minister Lieberman, should not be a Knesset member (MK) and the prime minister should be able to be deposed by a two-thirds majority of MKs at any time. He also wants to see a failure to pass the annual budget removed from the list of reasons for dissolving the Knesset and the requirement of a simple majority (61) of MKs for signing a disqualification proposal for one of their colleagues.