The Lapid-Bennett alliance led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to explain to the Shas party triumvirate – Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri and Ariel Atias – that his hands are tied.
Netanyahu told the three that though he wants them in his coalition, the task is made difficult by political complications.
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Said complications are caused by Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid's refusal to sit in government with the ultra-Orthodox parties due to their demands on the equal distribution of social burden.
Lapid and Bennet in the Knesset (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu promised that he will continue to push for Shas' inclusion in the new government over the next few days. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Bennett this evening.
The meeting was set after the two jabbed at each other on Saturday. Netanyahu met with President Shimon Peres and was granted a 14-day extension to form his government, later blaming the delay on Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid's "boycott" of the haredim.
Yachimovich and Netanayhu election posters (Photo: AFP)
Bennett, however, received some unexpected support form several rabbis: Four rabbis from the Tkuma pro-settlement party, Dov Lior, Haim Steiner, Issar Klonsky and David Chai Hacohen, gave a letter of support to Bennett and MK Uri Ariel.
"We support the way you're taking in order to save the world of the Torah and the settlement of the land of Israel by cooperating with Yair Lapid and his party," it read.
The alliance has brought to a frenzy the Likud-Beiteinu's attempts to make an alternative deal with their classic political rival – the Labor Party.
A labor source described the pressure exerted on the party to join the coalition as "unprecedented."
Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich has repeatedly said that she will not join Netanyahu's government and prefers to lead the opposition.
Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) representatives have approached Yachimovich repeatedly and asked for her support. They have also urged other senior Labor to use their influence on her to try and sway her decision.
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said before the plenum that he is "praying to God that the Labor Party will join the government."
MK Moshe Gafni (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Gafni told Ynet on Sunday that "Israelis are far more concerned with the economic, social, political and security situation than with this equal share of the burden hokum.
"Over the last years we've cooperated many times with the Labor party headed by Shelly Yachimovich. Together we have changed many significant issues in the Finance Committee, and we see eye-to-eye on many subjects."
"Yachimovich doesn't rave and rant, isn't hypocritical like other politicians on the equal share of the burden issue," Gafni added.
Pressures, said Labor sources, have came also from Hatnua MKs, who already signed on with Netanyahu, and sees the Labor party as an easier coalition partner than Lapid's and Bennett's parties.
In private discussions Yachimovich revealed that she has been offered the Treasury portfolio, but that accepting it is out of the question, as she is determined to stand by her announcement on election night: Prime minister or opposition leader.
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