As part of Thursday morning's coalition negotiations, the leading Likud party met with representatives from Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) and the National Union, two parties that, according to Likud Faction Leader MK Gideon Sa'ar, had formerly been part of "the hard nucleus of the opposition." Sa'ar said that a move toward a right-leaning coalition reflected the wishes of the voters.
"In recent years, we served together in the opposition, with a join vision of the dangers engendered by the policies of the previous government," the Likud member said, prior to meetings between his party and the hard-right parties.
"The Likud and the National Union were the hard nucleus of the opposition in recent years. Thus it is only natural that we are meeting now, after the public chose to undertake a revolution and change direction," he said.
National Union reps, including MK Katz third from left (Photo: Anat Shalev)
"We are meeting in the context of Qassams that keep falling on the Negev. There were two wars that were not concluded decisively. We have an excellent military, but the leadership was not decisive," National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz said prior to the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Katz remarked that "there had been a very positive atmosphere. It seems to us that it's possible to form a government within three weeks. We believe it will be a greater 'Land of Israel' spirit and bring about a change in the assumptions of the former government."
"We represent a party-line that most of the members of the coalition represent, just that we are clearer and more open about what we want. There is an understanding with the Likud that the next government will be more Jewish and more Zionist."
MK Uri Ariel added that 'there is an excellent base for a large, stable government. We can be a bridge between Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu on the issue of civil marriage."
Regarding the possible addition of Kadima to the coalition, Ariel said "we hope that there will be a compromise with (Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi) Livni and that she will join the government comprised of our 65 Knesset members. If she doesn't want to, perhaps some of her party members will."
Habayit Hayehudi: Education firstHabayit Hayehudi members, for their part, have placed education at the top of their list of priorities and appear poised to demand an increase in Jewish education in Israeli public schools, as well as promised preservation of religious institutions.
The party will also demand that any change in the existing status quo agreements on the topic of religion and state be conditional on the agreement of coalition members.
The party also intends to advance MK Zevulun Orlev's proposal to shift the weekend to Saturday and Sunday, so that Shabbat can be reserved for spiritual and cultural issues and shopping centers can be open on Sunday for people to run errands.
Regarding the contentious issue of civil marriage, Habayit Hayehudi will demand that all legislation on the issue be coordinate with the Chief Rabbinate and conform to halacha (Jewish law).
In terms of regional affairs, Habayit Hayehudi intends to ask that any peace agreement will not involve withdrawal from the Golan Heights or the creation of a Palestinian state.
Representatives of the party said they would not bring up issues ministerial posts, although they have promised constituents that they would ask for the Education Ministry.