Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, in an attempt to convince him to further pursue the inclusion of the religious parties in the coalition, which would require a compromise on the haredi draft – one of Yesh Atid's key platform points.
Netanyahu was expected to present Lapid with a formula for the formation of a wide coalition with Shas and Habayit Hayehudi, but sources in Yesh Atid were skeptic as to that possibility.
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The meeting between the two was arranged Wednesday by the head of Yesh Atid's negotiations team, Hillel Kobrinsky, and Netyanhu's bureau chief Gil Shefer – with the goal of promoting direct negotiations.
Netanyahu was expected to push for a compromise on the issue of the equal distribution of social burden, suggesting that Lapid create a new blueprint that will better reflect the results of the elections.
A source involved in negotiations between the two said that Netanyahu intends to establish a broad unity government, including Lapid, Naftali Bennett, the haredi parties, Livni and Mofaz. "Netanyahu believes that he must not miss this opportunity to jump-start the political process, and to bring real and immediate change with the equal distribution of social burden.”
Lapid and Bennett (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"We must integrate the haredim (into society) because without them there will not be a true political process," Netanyahu said, explaining the desire to include everyone in the coalition. "On the other hand, in order to promote equal distribution of burden, you cannot establish a government that is dependent on the haredim."
Even so, it is believed that Lapid will find it difficult to accept such a makeup. Sources in Yesh Atid said Wednesday that it will not be possible to establish a wide coalition due to two reasons: Gaps with Netanyahu's potential partners and the fact that a wide coalition spells an increase in the number if ministers – to which Lapid objects.
"Lapid will not support this," said a party source, adding that Yesh Atid's chair will insist on the establishment of a small of 18 minister government, especially considering the expected cuts in state budget.
This, together with the new closeness between Lapid and Bennett, has led Habayit Hayehudi to create their own outline regarding equal distribution of social birden – which they plan to present within the framework of the coalition negotiations.
Sources in Habayit Hayehudi say that there is agreement between Bennett and Lapid regarding the general idea of the drafting of haredim, and now they must close the final version with Netanyahu.
In the meantime, as the Shas leadership sends messages of appeasement to Habayit Hayehudi, the party spokesperson is viciously attacking the National Religious Party.
Nearly all the columns in the newspaper are reporting on attacks in one direction: Bennett and his party. On the cover of the newspaper's political insert, Shas displayed photos of soldiers crying during the (2005) Gaza disengagement – in order to push the most painful buttons of the settlers.
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