Likud negotiators with Shas' Yishai
Photo: Yaron Brener
Likud, Yisrael Beitenu to draft coalition agreement
Progress in talks with Avigdor Lieberman's party while Shas continues to say it will not compromise on issues pertaining to religious code

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is aiming to finish putting together his government within the original 28-day timeframe granted to him by President Shimon Peres.


Negotiators from the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu are scheduled to meet on Thursday morning in the hopes of cranking out a first draft of their coalition agreement.


The parties are still at loggerheads over civil marriages and the separation of religion and state, but Likud officials said there had been a modicum of progress at Wednesday's meeting.


Thursday will also see Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman meeting in private to discuss the burgeoning deal.


The prime minister-designate met with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai on Wednesday afternoon. Yishai reiterated that his party would not compromise on the question of civil marriage, telling Netanyahu the talks on the issue must end.


"We will not compromise on what is outside the halacha. I believe that by early next week there will be a rough outline to the (new) government," the Shas chairman said after meeting with Netanyahu.


"There isn't much time left for negotiations, time is running out. We discussed the composition of the government. We will discuss portfolios when we agree on the principles. There are negotiations on the civil marriage issue as well as the method of government that still need to be completed."


On Monday representatives from Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the National Union met to iron out their contentions. Sources present at the meeting reported that Lieberman expressed a willingness to accept Shas' proposed compromise on civil marriage for non-Jews.


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