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January 25, 2013 10:28 am
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Wheeling and Dealing Continues as Speculation About Next Israeli Government Gains Traction

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Speculation continues as to what the next Israeli government will look like as reports surface and are just as quickly denied. Early Friday Ynet reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Yair Lapid, whose party, Yesh Atid, received the second highest amount of mandates in Tuesday’s election, a choice between assuming the role of foreign or finance minister. Lapid, however, denied the report, writing on his Facebook page: “What’s happening now is neither a coalition negotiation nor the beginning of one. What’s most important is patience.”

Meanwhile a survey conducted by Israeli daily Maariv shows that a majority of Israelis would like to see Netanyahu form a coalition that includes both Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party and Naftali Bennett’s hawkish Jewish Home. As of Thursday, however, Israeli media was claiming that Bennett had yet to be contacted by Netanyahu about becoming a part of the next coalition government.

Shas and United Torah Judaism, the two ultra-Orthodox parties with a substantial number of mandates in the new Knesset, on the other hand are attempting to place themselves at the center of the debate. Friday No.2 on the Shas party list Aryeh Deri said his party and the United Torah Judaism party “will be coordinated in the negotiations.” He was referring to reports about a possible merger during the coalition negotiations.

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No.2 on the Shas party list Aryeh Deri said his party and the United Torah Judaism party “will be coordinated in the negotiations.” He was referring to reports about a possible merger during the coalition negotiations.

Deri further stated that Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef emphasized that “on the yeshivot students issue we’re 18 mandates, not 11. Tell that to Netanyahu.” Deri was referring to the issue of  a universal draft that would include the conscription of the ultra-Orthodox.  Lapid has stated that the issue is one of two–the other being the peace process–mandatory policies to be addressed in any government coalition he were to join.

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