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Naftali Bennett
Photo: Gur Dotan
Netanyahu-Bennett meeting described as 'productive'
Prime minister, Habayit Hayehudi chair meet in attempt to promote coalition deal. Yisrael Beiteinu's Lieberman attends meeting as well. Talks described as 'good'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett met Sunday in an attempt to promote the latter's inclusion in the coalition.

 

The meeting, held after the two traded verbal jeers Saturday over the stalled political negotiations, was described by both sides as "good and productive."

 

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Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman was present for the first part of the meeting, after which Netanyahu and Bennett conferred privately.

 

On Saturday, after Netanyahu was granted a 14-day extension by President Shimon Peres to form the government, the prime minister said that the delays in the coalition negotiations were the results of "some parties boycotting others."

 

The barely disguised criticism was aimed at Bennett and Yair Lapid, whose steadfast political pact and combined 31 Knesset seats all but compel Netanyahu to favor them as coalition partners over the ultra-Orthodox parties.

 

Lapid is adamant that he will not join a coalition that includes the haredi parties. "It would not be a tragedy if the haredim sit in the opposition in the upcoming term," he said Saturday.

 

Bennett rebuffed Netanyahu's criticism via his Facebook page, saying it was the Likud-Beiteinu's negotiation team that was responsible for the disconnect in the coalition talks.

 

"We expected to be the first, and most natural, partner to enter Netanyahu's government. We recommended that he be tasked with forming the government sans any preconditions. The Likud, however, sent us a clear message – 'there is no way the religious-Zionism party will be part of the government,'" he said.

 

On Sunday, however, Bennett and Netanyahu seemed to be willing to move forwards. According to both parties, the two will meet again in the coming days.

 

 

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