Bitter rivals Habayit Hayehudi
Chairman Naftali Bennett
and Prime Minister and Likud
leader Benjamin Netanyahu
met Monday to discuss the former's possible partnership in the coalition.
The two met in Tel Aviv after Netanyahu had already met with all of the other major factions' leaders, including with the six MK-strong Meretz
Party Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On.
The meeting followed a ruthless smear campaign,
and was held against the backdrop of what is reportedly a years-long feud between Netanyahu's wife and Bennett, formerly Netanyahu's office chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid commented on the coalition negotiations noting that "99.9% of what you read in the paper has no bearing on reality."
He said he is open to considering the Likud-Beiteinu's draft plan and noted that he "gets along" with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lapid estimated that the negotiations will take another two to three weeks or maybe even longer.
In a radio interview Sunday, Bennett sought to publicly apologize for his previous statement,
which suggested he was "terrorized" while working vis-à-vis the prime minister's wife.
Netanyahu previously announced that he intends on Habayit Hayehudi being part of his new government "With (Yair) Lapid,
with Bennett, with the haredim, with (Tzipi) Livni
and (Shaul) Mofaz."
The prime minister has already met with Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid twice. The latter, seems to have formed a unified front with Habayit Hayehudi on several of the issues he deemed as cardinal to his joining the coalition.
Lapid and Bennett (Photo; AP)
The coalition negotiations' main issue with Habayit Hayehudi, as it is with the rest of the parties, is the contested demand for a haredi draft,
as part of the efforts to promote the equal distribution of social burden.
Habayit Hayehudi members have already rejected Likud MK Moshe Ya'alon's outline on the matter, saying it was far from achieving the desired result. The party is currently formulating its own alternative outline.
Moreover, Bennett's party intends to exert full-pressure on the demand to resolve various socioeconomic issues.
Habayit Hayehudi is likely to demand the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee – which, like the Treasury, is one of the senior positions in the House – from where it hopes to better control the budget and the State's purse strings.
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