In Israel, Likud-Beitenu Yesh Atid Coalition Begins to Take Form
by Max Elstein Keisler
Despite reports that Shelly Yachimovich, the leader of Israel’s Labor party attempted a move to block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming Israel’s next government following Tuesday’s elections, a coalition between Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu party and the newly successful Yesh Atid party of Yair Lapid is looking likely, Israeli media is reporting.
Yair Lapid, having made clear that a Yachimovich alliance is off the table, has plans to take a position as a senior member in the coalition government. According to Ynet, sources close to Lapid say that he has made it clear that any government he is a part of must address the issue of a universal draft, which would make military service mandatory for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, and also the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Ynet adds that members of Yesh Atid’s list are divided in their opinions over their potential coalition partners. Lapid himself has refused to rule out the Haredi factions, though it has been suggested by members of his party that passing a universal draft bill would be easier without the ultra-Orthodox.
Some party list members are less adamant about the exclusion of the Haredim and are more concerned about the possibility of working alongside Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party. It is believed by some on Yesh Atid’s party list that keeping Bennett from joining the next coalition would enable progress in the peace process. According to Israeli media, Bennett has yet to be contacted about joining the next Netanyahu-led coalition government. Yesh Atid list members believe that the religious Shas party can be a partner in negotiations on the issue of a universal draft.
Members of the ultra-Orthodox bloc have described Yesh Atid’s success as “a nightmare.” Shas is reportedly in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Netanyahu to “draw boundaries and determine what [they] can live with [in a coalition]”.
Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, spoke positively about a coalition with Lapid.
“There is no doubt that a party with 19 seats is a senior partner. Yair Lapid spoke a lot about the middle class and social protest. He has a focus on domestic issues and might take the finance portfolio, but that’s just speculation, nothing serious,” Israeli daily Maariv reported Lieberman as saying.
About a future coalition, Liberman said, “We do not reject anyone. No doubt that the religious parties understand that they cannot proceed as if nothing happened and they have to be flexible. Anyone who takes these principles will be more than welcome to take part in the coalition and in those changes. It is clear that the people are asking for a dramatic change when it comes to internal politics.”