Coalition talks with United Right stall as gov’t deadline nears
Talks between United Right and Likud stall in final week of coalition negotiations. ‘We’re like unwanted stepchildren.’
Coalition negotiations between the Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties have stalled as talks to form a new government enter the final week.
Last week, President Reuven Rivlin granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an extra two weeks to secure agreements with coalition partners giving him a 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. Netanyahu now has until May 29th to reach coalition deals with the five parties expected to form the next government with the Likud: Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beytenu, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties.
While the Likud’s negotiating team is focusing its efforts to reach a compromise which would enable both the haredi factions – Shas and UTJ – and Yisrael Beytenu to join the coalition together, officials in the Union of Right-Wing Parties say Netanyahu is ignoring the party, apparently leaving it for the end of the negotiating period.
Over the past week, the Likud negotiating team has met with UTJ officials three times over the past week, but has not met once with representatives of the Union of Right-Wing Parties once since last Wednesday – nor have any new meetings been scheduled.
According to a report by Israel Hayom on Wednesday, United Right officials accused Netanyahu of abandoning the National-Religious sector after last month’s elections.
“As usual, Netanyahu embraced the Religious Zionist movement during the elections, but leaves it for the end of the negotiations.”
During earlier negotiations with the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Netanyahu refused to commit in the coalition agreement not to undertake any withdrawals from Judea and Samaria. The Prime Minister has also thus far refused United Right demands for coalition agreements requiring the government to combat Palestinian Authority efforts to effectively seize control of territory in Area C – which is under Israeli administration – as well as plans for a new Regulation Law to normalize the legal status of additional Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.
“People got angry at us for going public with our demands,” the United Right officials said, “but what are the other [coalition] partners talking about? Liberman held a press briefing, and [the Likud] is still taking with him like normal. Yisrael Eichler [an MK from UTJ] said that he has no problem with new elections. Did anyone cut off contact with him? Do the Likud people want to wait until the very last minute?”
“We won’t give in. We have reasonable requests. Liberman, with his five mandates, is getting the Defense Ministry, and Kahlon who lost most of his mandates is keeping the Finance Ministry. Why do we have to be the unwanted stepchildren who get cheated?