Photo: EPA
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: EPA

Likud officials threaten new elections as coalition talks falter

Time running out for the prime minister, who has just eight days to cobble together his new government; PM says small parties are making exaggerated demands, facing growing criticism within his own party about planned immunity law

With time running out, unnamed Likud officials have warned that the party could declare a dead-end in coalition negotiations due to unreasonable demands and call for fresh elections, less than two months after the country went to the polls on April 9.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has until May 28 to form the next government. He has already received his one-off 14-day extension from President Reuven Rivlin.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: EPA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: EPA)


However, Netanyahu is yet to sign a deal with any party, and has declared that negotiations are stuck. He also said that the smaller parties "need to climb down from the tree," since they are making exaggerated demands.   


Not signing a single deal with a coalition partner this late into negotiations is unprecedented in Israeli political history.


The terms issued by the small parties include a demand to give the Justice Ministry to the Union of Right-Wing Parties. This faction include supporters of extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose own Kach party was outlawed by Israel. 


Rabbi Haim Drukman of Jewish Home, who has decided to take part in coalition negotiations, told Israeli radio on Monday morning that "without the education and justice ministries (going to the Union of Right-Wing Parties), the prime minister will not have a government." 


Rabbi Haim Drukman of Jewish Home
Rabbi Haim Drukman of Jewish Home


Meanwhile, Netanyahu is facing internal criticism within his own Likud party over his purported plan to have coalition partners commit to passing a so-called immunity law that would prevent a sitting prime minister from being indicted. Netanyahu is facing three separate corruption investigations and the attorney general as indicted that he will seek indicments.


Former Likud minister Limor Livnat criticized the plan in Ynetnews' sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth, while Netanyahu's main perceived Likud rival, MK Gideon Sa'ar, called the initiative "corrupt." 


Sa'ar was widely condemned for his criticism, and a post circulated on social media branded him a traitor and showed him wearing Arab traditional garb.


Also on Sunday, the cabinet agreed to overturn a 2013 law limiting the number of government ministers to 18 and deputy ministers to four; the entire Knesset will vote Monday on the change.



MK Yair Lapid (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
MK Yair Lapid (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, who was behind the 2013 law, tweeted Sunday that cancelling the limitations on ministries was a corrupt move aimed at rewarding MKs who would support Netanyahu's efforts to pass the immunity law.


The new government will apparently have 26 ministers and eight deputy ministers, according to political sources. This will mean an increase in the cost the government of NIS 100 million per annum and half a billion shekels per Knesset term.


פרסום ראשון: 05.20.19, 11:25
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