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Yair Lapid Photo: Moti Kimchi
Yair Lapid Photo: Moti Kimchi
 
 

Coalition talks begin: Netanyahu, Lapid meet

Joint statement released by Likud, Yesh Atid says two-hour meeting in Jerusalem focused on 'ways to deal with challenges Israel faces.' PM congratulates Bennett on elections success

Tzvika Brot, Attila Somfalvi
Published: 01.24.13, 18:45 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at his Jerusalem residence on Thursday with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, the big winner of Tuesday's national elections.

 

A joint statement released by Yesh Atid and Likud said the atmosphere during the two-hour meeting was positive. The two discussed "the challenges facing the country and ways to deal with them. They agreed to meet again soon," according to the statement.

 

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According to the latest election results, released after all of the soldiers' vote were tallied, Likud won 31 Knesset seats, while Yesh Atid won 19 seats.

 

Also on Thursday, Netanyahu phoned Naftali Bennet, whose Habayit Hayehudi party will apparently have 12 representatives in the 19th Knesset. The PM, who called the leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism immediately after the elections, congratulated Bennett on his achievement. The two did not schedule a meeting.

 

Waiting for Peres

Next week, after President Shimon Peres received the official election results from the head of the Central Elections Committee, he will begin a round of talks with party leaders to determine who he will task with forming the next government.

 

Lapid clarified on Wednesday that he would not form an obstructive Center-Left bloc to prevent Netanyahu from assembling the next coalition. However, Lapid is expected to present two basic conditions for joining a Likud-led government: Equal share of the burden legislation and the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

 

Apart from these two red lines, Yesh Atid will push for a reduction in housing rates, education reform that will see core subjects studied in all schools and the reduction of the number of government ministers to a maximum of 18.

 

Members of Yesh Atid's list are divided as to their potential coalition partners. Lapid himself has refused to rule out the haredi factions however members of his party estimated that passing a universal draft bill would be easier without the ultra-Orthodox.

 

Others are less adamant about the exclusion of the haredim and are more concerned about working alongside Habayit Hayehudi. Leaving out Naftali Bennett's party, they claim, would enable progress in the peace process. They believe Shas can be a partner to negotiations on universal draft.

 

Tzvika Brot and Attila Somfalvi are Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondents

  

 

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