If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails in forming a government and finds himself with no choice but to give in to demands of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, would prefer Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi as members of his coalition over the religious parties, a senior source from Likud-Beiteinu said over the weekend.
While Netanyahu may have said at the start of negotiations that he has no intention of excluding the haredim from the coalition, if political complications continue – and regardless of whether the haredim sign a coalition agreement – they might find themselves left out.
"If Netanyahu feels he is backed into a corner and may lose the chance to form a government, he won't think twice about leaving the haredim out of the coalition," the source said.
Netanyahu initial timeframe for formulating a government will expire at the end of the week. According to Israel's Election Law, he may then ask President Shimon Peres for a two-week extension. If by that time he is unsuccessful again, general elections will be called again.
Sources in Likud-Beiteinu criticized the decision of the prime minister to favor the haredim from the start.
They claim that Netanyahu "originally wanted to leave Bennett out due to personal considerations, plus, he was sure Lapid was in his pocket – so he quickly devoted himself to the haredim.
"The public wanted a certain government in these elections, and Netanyahu wants to force it to accept a government from the past."
Even so, a source on the negotiation team of Likud-Beiteinu claimed Saturday after a meeting with Habayit Hayehudi that the gap between them is not as large as the statements of Bennett and his team may make it seem.
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